Lyons Township High School senior Ally Cesarini recently has been slightly reluctant to shoot the basketball.
But, the Lewis University recruit took the initiative on Jan. 23 and delivered a career-high 23 points as the Lions earned one of their biggest victories so far, 55-46 at Mother McAuley.
The Lions (22-4, 10-0) captured their eighth straight win and a key victory for upcoming sectional seeding purposes.
“We knew we wanted to beat them because we just didn’t want them to get a higher seed than us,” Cesarini said. “We knew we needed to win it.”
The Lions led the Mighty Macs (15-9) 35-32 after three quarters. Cesarini collected 12 points in the fourth quarter, including two threes.
Senior Ella Ormsby added 10 points, including 5-of-7 free-throw shooting in the fourth quarter. The Lions made 8 of 11 free throws in the final quarter.
“We were able to control it a little bit there [with free throws]. It was a little nerve wracking because we weren’t making free throws the first three quarters,” LTHS coach Meghan Hutchens said.
Cesarini surpassed her personal best of 22 points last season against Batavia.
“Honestly I didn’t think [my shots] were going to go in when I shot them, but I’m just glad that I did,” Cesarini said. “I know Ella’s a good free-throw shooter. She’s pretty consistent, and I know she can make them when we need them.”
In West Suburban Conference-Silver Division action, the Lions defeated Proviso West 53-22 on Jan. 21 and Oak Park and River Forest 65-19 on Jan. 19 in their annual Pink Out game that raised roughly $1,000 for Play4Kay cancer research.
All 15 Lions saw action in the victories. Cesarini (16 points) and Elin O’Brien (14 points) reached double figures against OPRF. O’Brien (9 points) and Ormsby (8 points) were leading scorers against Proviso West.
The Lions play host to Lincoln-Way West at 3 p.m. on Jan. 28 for their Mental Health Awareness Game.
LTHS boys basketball
Senior Jackson Niego and the Lyons Township High School boys basketball team not only faced rival Hinsdale Central for the first time this season on Jan. 20.
The two are among the top 15 in the IHSA Class 4A Associated Press rankings and had the West Suburban Conference-Silver Division lead at stake in front of a packed gym and attendance of 2,975.
“Maybe last year, being on the team, a similar crowd, but this was crazy,” Niego said. “It’s something you dream about as a kid for sure.”
However, the Lions’ dreams of winning the conference title took a slight detour after losing 49-41.
Niego had 16 points with two second-half threes for the Lions (18-3, 5-2). Seniors Nik Polonowski (2 threes) and Graham Smith (8 rebounds) had 10 points each.
“Loose balls and stuff like that we could have been more aggressive on, but I feel like we played hard,” Niego said. “We’ve got to hit more shots. I think we came out a little flat in the first quarter.”
The Lions trailed 38-27 entering the fourth quarter and cut a 41-31 deficit to 41-35 with 2:46 left on back-to-back putback baskets from Smith.
Hinsdale Central (19-3, 6-1) held on with a perimeter basket and by hitting 6 of 8 free throws, including two pairs after LTHS threatened again to at 45-41 with 50.1 seconds left.
Leading scorer Ben Oosterbaan (17 points) earlier added a free throw after getting the offensive rebound of a Red Devils’ miss.
“They’re really good. We struggled to put the ball in the basket for a while. We started to make a run and then they’d get a couple of quick baskets,” LTHS coach Tom Sloan said. “It just felt like we were constantly chasing. There were some key plays where a ball could have gone either way and ended up in their hands, turned into a basket or foul or good play for them. They deserved to win. We get to play them again [Feb. 11] and hopefully the result goes the other way.”
The Lions trailed most of the game after a first-quarter scoring drought turned their early 8-7 lead into a 15-8 deficit by the end of the period. Nine points came from Oosterbaan.
In the second quarter, LTHS used Connor Carroll’s basket and a Piotrowski three to close to 23-18 at the half, but Hinsdale Central scored twice in the first 30 seconds of the third quarter to go ahead 28-18.
In one of their higher-scoring games on Jan. 21, LTHS beat Proviso East 75-71 behind Niego (20 points), Smith (18 points, 11 rebounds), Piotrowski (13 points) and Carroll (10 points).