OPRF optimistic about playoffs

Return of several Huskies from injuries bodes well for postseason

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By Marty Farmer

Sports Editor

Over a span of just three days, the Oak Park and River Forest High School girls basketball team probably played its worst and best games in succession.

The Huskies turned in a clunker in a 63-42 loss against York  in Elmhurst (Jan. 31); however, returned home to upset Glenbard West 48-45 (Feb. 2). Ahsha Spencer led OPRF in scoring with 18 points against York and 19 against Glenbard West.

The Huskies snapped Glenbard West's 20-game winning streak.

"We were able to follow up the York disaster with our biggest victory of the season," OPRF coach JP Coughlin said. "The story of the Glenbard West game was our defense. We played a Triangle-and-2 for the first time this season. Led by Maeve Nelson, Carrington McGowan and Aidan Coalson, we neutralized their bigs and held their guards in check. It was our best win this season; a true team effort."

As always, The wildcard for OPRF is health. The team has been hampered by injuries several years in a row with this season serving as no exception. Junior Darse Sanchez, the Huskies' leading scorer, is out for the season with a knee injury. She's expected to make a full recovery for next season.

Katie Sisler and Nelson have been dealing with concussions in the second half of the season, although the latter returned to the lineup against Glenbard West. Nelson, an all-court player known for her excellent defensive skills and versatility on offense, is back to full speed.

Amaya Coleman, who hadn't played since mid-December due to a broken foot, played limited minutes against Glenbard West.

"We are hoping to increase Amaya's minutes this week and have her close to full strength for the playoffs," Coughlin said. "As a two-year starter, she's the kind of player who can really give us a spark and make us more dangerous on both ends of the court."

With so many players in and out of the lineup, players like Joi Holman, Cici Garland and Faith Smith have been valuable contributors to complement the high-scoring Spencer. Nevertheless, a healthy Huskies squad is markedly better and certainly more dangerous in the playoffs.

The Huskies close out the regular season against visiting Leyden on Wednesday, Feb. 7. The conference crossover game starts at 7 p.m.

Looking ahead, OPRF (12-15, 7-5 West Suburban Silver) is the No. 11 seed in the Maine East Sectional. The Huskies face Evanston on Tuesday, Feb. 13 in the opening round of the Class 4A playoffs. Tip-off is 7:30 p.m. at the Lane Tech Regional.

A few weeks ago, Evanston defeated OPRF in a close game; however, the Huskies played without four starters.

"If we can defend and rebounds like we did against Glenbard West, I think we are certainly capable of pulling off some upsets in the playoffs," Coughlin said.

Maine West is the top seed in the sectional, followed by Proviso East, Loyola Academy, Trinity and New Trier as seeds 2 thru 5.


Email: marty@oakpark.com Twitter: @OakParkSports

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