Redbird to be: Illinois State-bound Stekara Hall, aka 'Stick,' returns to help guide the Huskies this season.

By averaging 19 points and 11 rebounds during her junior season last year, OPRF girls basketball player Stekara Hall made quite a name for herself. And the name Hall is likely to be echoed across the Field House several times during games this season.

Along with the Illinois State-bound Stekara and returning starter Caroline Kelty, the Huskies welcome Walther Lutheran- transfer Cuyla Hall into the mix this season. Cuyla, no relation to Stekara, is a southpaw shooter and a probable starter at forward. While Stekara and Kelty will run the offense at the guard positions, Cuyla, a 5-foot-9 junior, is expected to play a pivotal role in the team’s success this season.

But as Cuyla gets comfortable with her new team, most of OPRF’s scoring threat will derive from Stekara and Kelty. The duo honed their skills and mastered their chemistry while playing on the same AAU club team over the summer, something head coach Bob Biggins is anxious to carry over into the regular season.

“Stekara has been fantastic this summer and Fall, maturing tremendously as a player and person,” said Biggins of his star. “Her practice habits are tremendous and she lifts the play of those around her. I’m very excited to see what she can accomplish her senior year and I plan on enjoying her and Caroline’s chemistry.”

Others back in the fold this season include seniors Elizabeth (Biz) Mullins, Kayla Nelson and Diamond Hearn. Both Mullins and Nelson played reserve roles last year, but Biggins anticipates the two seeing increased playing time in their final high school seasons. Hearn missed most of the season last year due to health issues, but is ready to go.

Along with Cuyla, Biggins has several juniors to call upon. Maeve Connelly will see significant time at point guard, while the 6-foot-1 Emily Vachon will go to work in the low post. Laney Dossey (center), Ana Spinuzza (guard), Jessi Dixon (center) and Liana Gissendanner (guard) are also expected to contribute significantly this season.

Biggins is also likely to use freshman Hailey Hoye intermittently at the point or two-guard position throughout the season.

The Huskies will try to hold on to the West Suburban (Silver) Conference title they shared with York last season. The Dukes are expected to again contend for the top spot, while Proviso West and Glenbard West should also be in the running with OPRF.

“Other programs are making strides and I don’t rule anyone out,” said Biggins of this season’s conference field. “It will be tough to repeat as we are once again very short and very young. [But] we’ll play hard, fast, pressing defense and we’ll refuse to quit. We feel [good] about the blend of new players. We should improve as the season progresses.”

The Huskies opened the season at area-rival Trinity on Tuesday (after deadline). They’ll open conference play on Nov. 29 and host cross-town rival Fenwick on Dec. 14.

Up Close

Key returners: Stekara Hall, Caroline Kelty

Newcomers: Cuyla Hall, Hailey Hoye

2010-11 record: 18-13 overall, 9-3 WSC Silver

Tidbit: Two Halls are sure to be better than one this season.

2011-12 Home Schedule

Tues., Nov. 29 vs. York, 6:30 p.m.

Wed., Dec. 14 vs. Fenwick, 6 p.m.

Fri., Dec. 16 vs. Hinsdale C., 7:30 p.m.

Sat., Jan. 7 vs. Lyons Township, 4 p.m.

Sat., Jan. 14 vs. Glenbard West, 4 p.m.

Fri., Jan. 27 vs. Downers N., 7:30 p.m.

Tues., Jan. 31 vs. Proviso West, 6:30 p.m.

Wed., Feb. 8 vs. WSC crossover game, 7 p.m.

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Brad Spencer

Brad Spencer has been covering sports in and around Oak Park for more than a decade, which means the young athletes he once covered in high school are now out of college and at home living with their parents...