Due to injuries and work obligations last summer, several key players on the Oak Park and River Forest High School girls basketball team couldn’t spend as much time together as they would have liked on the court.
“With Darse (Sanchez) and Ahsha (Spencer) out injured this summer, and Katie (Sisler) and Faith (Smith) working a bunch, we didn’t get a chance to gel this summer,” OPRF coach J.P. Coughlin said. “It’s a process and I truly believe that this group is going to get better and better throughout the season.”
Consequently, the Huskies are developing team chemistry on the fly this winter. Five games into the schedule, the process looks promising with OPRF off to a 3-2 start.
“This group is incredibly positive and supportive of each other,” Coughlin said. “The enthusiasm and positivity on the bench during our games is better than any team I’ve ever coached.”
Spencer has led the way with her terrific all-court game. She scored 24 points and pulled down nine rebounds in the Huskies’ 80-61 win over Lane Tech in the season opener. At the Hinsdale South tournament, she followed her season debut with 27 points, eight rebounds and five assists in a 65-45 victory against St. Edward. In other tourney games, Spencer had 13 points, seven rebounds, six assists and four steals in a 57-40 win over Neuqua Valley and 18 points in a 70-47 loss against Sandburg.
Rough patches of play against Sandburg and St. Ignatius (56-27 loss for OPRF) have been problematic for the Huskies.
“In our two losses, we shot terrible from the field,” Coughlin said. “Our final game (Neuqua Valley) was by far our best defensive game. Hopefully we can avoid having terrible halves like we did against St. Ignatius (first half) and Sandburg (second half). This group will continue to work hard and support each other. I’m confident that the bumps in the road will be few and far between.”
Along with Spencer, Tatym Coe, Karly Cantrell, Smith, Sanchez and Sisler all have contributed for OPRF.
Coe scored 17 points against Lane Tech, while Smith (team-high 26 points) and Cantrell (13 rebounds) played well against Neuqua Valley. Working their way back from injuries, Sanchez and Sisler have been effective as well.
“Faith Smith has been incredible the past two games,” Coughlin said. “It is great to see her putting it together. Darse is starting to shake off the rust of not playing basketball for 10 months (she was cleared for contact during the first week of tryouts). Ahsha has been solid throughout.”
The Huskies host highly regarded Proviso East on Thursday, Nov. 29. Tip-off is 7 p.m. in the OPRF Field House. OPRF visits Thornridge for a nonconference game on Friday, Nov. 30 at 7 p.m.