Seniors Ally Cesarini and Ella Ormsby are used to high expectations in the Lyons Township High School girls basketball program.
Cesarini is entering her fourth varsity season and Ormsby her third.
“Both of us have to step up and sort of take that leadership role on the court. That’s definitely a big change,” Cesarini said. “Since we have a lot of younger girls, it’s important that the returners take them under our wing and lead them through it.”
The returning starters lead a relatively inexperienced but talented group after one of the Lions’ greatest recent seasons.
LTHS finished 28-4, won the West Suburban Conference Silver Division with a perfect 12-0 and reached the IHSA Class 4A sectional final before losing to Whitney Young.
The season begins Nov. 18 with the first round of the annual LTHS Thanksgiving Tournament.
“Being a senior definitely has changed [my role]. I’m looking towards being more aggressive and more communicative and just attacking, shooting, all of that,” Ormsby said.
Last season’s Lions started 11-1 behind three seniors now playing college sports – Izzy Lee (Illinois soccer), Hailey Markworth (Winona State basketball) and Olivia Mezan (Missouri-St. Louis basketball).
This team will require more patience.
“We have a different team than we had last year,” LTHS coach Meghan Hutchens said. “Those seniors really understood what we were asking. I think this group can do the same, but it’s going to take some time and learning experiences to figure that out.”
An NCAA Division II Lewis University recruit, the 5-foot-8 Cesarini averaged 8.8 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.4 steals at guard last season. She earned All-WSC Silver honors with the standout seniors.
The 5-9 Ormsby averaged 6.3 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.9 steals at guard. Juniors Elin O’Brien, who made 52 three-pointers, and 5-10 Kennedy Wanless were the first guard and forward off the bench last season. Also back is senior forward Lillian Prendergast.
The inside potential of 6-2 sophomore Nora Ezike continues to draw Division I interest after she split time between varsity and JV last season. Varsity newcomers are seniors Priscilla Linares and Maeve McDougal; juniors Ashley Airhart, Brooke Etheridge, Keira Kessler, Cat Niego and Jenna Rentz; sophomore Tess Bernson; and freshmen Emma O’Brien and Avery Mezan, the sisters of Elin and Olivia, respectively.
The Lions possess size, length and speed and should be able to score. As a result, Cesarini hopes to bolster other aspects of her game.
“I’m going to try and focus on the rebounding, defense,” Cesarini said. “We have a lot of other girls who can score a lot of points, so I’d like to take that into more focus.”