OPRF senior Ahsha Spencer led the Huskies in five categories statistically last season. (File photo)

For the past several seasons, injuries have been a bugaboo for the Oak Park and River Forest High School girls basketball team. Nevertheless, seniors Maeve Nelson, Amaya Coleman and Joi Holman led the Huskies to a 15-16 record and a fourth-place showing in the West Suburban Conference Silver Division last season

Head coach J.P. Coughlin may want to knock on some basketball hardwood, but the Huskies finally appear healthy entering this season.

Seniors Darse’ Sanchez and Katie Sisler are back after dealing with injuries. Sanchez tore an ACL last year and Sisler has been injured the majority of her varsity career.

“Darse’ is healthy and ready for a big season,” Coughlin said. “It’s great to have Katie in the lineup. She has a solid 3-point stroke and is the best defender on our team.”

Along with Sanchez, who averaged 19 points per game before her injury, senior Ahsha Spencer (13 points per game in 2017) provides scoring, plus everything else. Spencer led the Huskies in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks last season.

“Ahsha and Darse’ are going to be steals for some mid-major D1 or D2 college program,” Coughlin said. “They are two of the best guards in the area.”

Tatym Coe, who led the sophomore team in scoring last season, is a good shooter with a quick release. Coughlin is excited about the potential of freshman Lilah Gery.

“Lilah can do everything,” he said. “She has a good shot and solid handle. We’re expecting big things from her leading our second unit.”

Senior Faith Smith and juniors Karly Cantrell and Alia Anderson will contribute this season as well.

“Faith has had some big games for us,” Coughlin said. “Karly hustles, rebounds and plays good defense. Alia is a guard who can shoot and is very effective going to the rim.”

Aside from health, the Huskies’ “small ball” style of play will be the other narrative to monitor this winter.

“We are very guard-oriented. We will play four or five guards at all times,” Coughlin said. “We press and play very fast. We need to improve our team rebounding and be committed to pressing and trapping.”

Defending conference champion Glenbard West has a good chance to repeat; however, Downers Grove North, Lyons Township and OPRF could challenge the Hilltoppers for the title.

OPRF will be tested in and out of conference. Along with the rigors of West Suburban Silver play, the Huskies will face excellent teams like Nazareth, New Trier and Proviso East plus local rivals Fenwick and Trinity in nonconference action. OPRF also competes annually in the Montini Christmas tourney, one of the premier holiday tournaments in the Midwest.

After an 80-61 win over visiting Lane Tech in their season opener, the Huskies have gone 1-2 at the Hinsdale South tourney. OPRF (2-2) hosts highly regarded Proviso East on Thursday, Nov. 29. Tip off is 7 p.m. for the West Suburban Conference crossover.

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Marty Farmer

The Illinois Press Association recently honored Marty with the 1st & 2nd Place Awards for Best Sports Feature for his article He's in an Oak Park state of mind: Former OPRF star Iman Shumpert returns...