Teammates practice their layups on Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021, during varsity practice at Oak Park and River Forest High School in Oak Park. | Alex Rogals

When former Oak Park and River Forest High School girls basketball coach J.P. Coughlin announced his retirement this spring, it caught senior guard Lilah Gery by surprise.

But when Coughlin’s replacement, Carlton Rosemond, introduced himself to the team this summer, Gery felt rejuvenated.

“When I heard him for the first time, he was excited,” she said. “He’s pushed us on the court and been there for us off of it. He’s a really good guy, and we’ve all had a boost of confidence as a program.”

The Huskies return several players, including seniors Darnesha Fraley, Kennedy Jones, Martha Lipic and Sadie Lyons as well as juniors Reese Garland and Elizabeth Majka.

“Lilah’s experience is invaluable,” said Rosemond of Gery, a four-year varsity player. “She’s been a great leader in practice and showing how bad she wants to make this a good season as she finishes out her OPRF career.”

Last spring’s pandemic-shortened season saw an inconsistent Huskies squad put up a 5-9 record. Gery said she would like to see the Huskies consistently put together complete games.

“We need to work on staying locked in through all four quarters,” Gery said. “In the past when things got tough, we kept our heads down. We’re working on fighting adversity and doing what it takes to win.”

OPRF will be put to the test this season with a competitive schedule that was slated to open Nov. 16 against Stagg at the Hinsdale South Invitational. After those games, Rosemond feels he’ll have a better understanding of where they stand.

OPRF will also participate in the Morton College holiday tournament, where several of the Chicago area’s top teams will compete. In addition, the Huskies have crosstown games with Fenwick and Trinity, as well as a tough league schedule in the West Suburban Conference’s Silver Division.

“I hope the conference will allow us to become battle-tested,” Rosemond said. “It gives us opportunities to see where we stack up. I’m excited to show that this is a different OPRF team, and so are the girls.”

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