Hailey Markworth

Lyons Township High School senior girls basketball player Hailey Markworth injured her ankle but never wavered during the Lions’ Class 4A sectional final on Feb. 24. Senior Izzy Lee, the Lions’ leading scorer, injured her shooting arm during the game yet continued battling inside.

“In the regional final, I twisted my ankle. There were moments where I twisted it a bit, but it was all right,” Markworth said.

The Lions matched Whitney Young with the grit, energy and heart that fueled their greatest season in years. Their shooting, however, was far from usual.

An arctic-cold final three quarters froze the Lions during a 52-33 loss in LaGrange, preventing their first sectional title since 1999.

After the top-seeded Lions (28-4) scored on their first two possessions of the second quarter, they led 18-11.

They shot 6-for-34 from the field (18 percent) the rest of the way after the Dolphins switched to a 3-2 zone to defend the 6-foot Lee and challenge their usually strong outside shooting.

Izzy Le

LTHS finished with eight points on three baskets over the final 13:23, concluding with a five-point fourth quarter.

“We went ice cold, I mean ice cold shooting, in the whole second half,” LTHS coach Meghan Hutchens said. “They gave nothing but their all. It’s very hard to watch a very good team go down in that fashion where we just beat ourselves because we couldn’t get a shot to fall.”

Markworth (10 points, 4 steals) and Lee (8 points, 15 rebounds) led the Lions. Sophomore reserve Elin O’Brien (6 points) and Markworth each had two of LTHS’ five three-pointers.

The Lions finished with the third-most victories in a season and just shy of the 1999 program-best 30-5 state quarterfinal run.

They had won 16 straight, were undefeated West Suburban Conference Silver Division champions and captured their first regional title since 2016 by beating Mother McAuley 58-37.

Olivia Mazan

Third-seeded Whitney Young (23-6) lost 44-37 to Benet Academy in the IHSA supersectional on Feb. 28 in Chicago to end their postseason run.

“[The seniors] are a special group and I’m going to miss them, but they have risen the bar for us to move forward with this program,” Hutchens said.

The Lions’ typical top seven players included senior guard Olivia Mezan and juniors Ally Cesarini and Ella Ormsby as starters and sophomore Kennedy Wanless off the bench. Markworth (Winona State) and Mezan (Missouri-St. Louis) will play college basketball. Lee will play soccer at Illinois.

“It was definitely a special season. I think we did everything we wanted to do,” Lee said. “We were all super close and everyone can step up and play when we needed them.”