Returning senior starters Ally Cesarini and Ella Ormsby guided the Lyons Township High School girls basketball team to another memorable season.
For the Lions, the journey again ended all too soon at the hands of Whitney Young, this time 63-47 Feb. 21 in the IHSA Class 4A Proviso East Sectional semifinals.
“We fought super hard,” Ormsby said. “That’s really all that matters is that we played our hearts out until the end. It was tough, them coming in after halftime and building a bigger lead, but we still worked hard and tried to fight to stay in the game.”
Cesarini (17 points, 9 rebounds), sophomore Nora Ezike (14 points, 6 rebounds), junior Kennedy Wanless (5 points, 9 rebounds) and Ormsby (5 points) led the No. 2-seeded Lions (28-5), who had won 14 straight and captured back-to-back regional titles for the first time since 2004-05.
“There’s the famous saying: Don’t be sad that it’s over. Be happy because it happened. It was a great season again,” Cesarini said.
Last year, the Lions lost to Whitney Young 52-33 in the sectional final after leading 18-11 in the second quarter before going into a shooting funk. They also lost to the No. 3 Dolphins (26-6) in the Montini Christmas Tournament semifinals 53-47 on Dec. 29.
This time, the Lions faced adversity quickly. Leading scorer Cesarini and junior Elin O’Brien, their top 3-point shooter, went to the bench within the first four minutes with two fouls apiece in their zone defense.
Without them, the Lions still pulled ahead 12-10 on back-to-back baskets by freshman Emma O’Brien and Ormsby, but they fell behind 23-15 before their return the latter half of the second quarter.
“When they’re in foul trouble, we don’t have our best scorers on the floor and that’s where the gap started,” LT coach Meghan Hutchens said.
The Lions still were within range 31-22 at halftime until the Dolphins opened the third quarter with a 9-1 run for a 40-23 advantage.
“What can you say? Our kids fought to the very end. Our kids played classy and I respect them a lot for that,” Hutchens said.
Led by University of Missouri recruit Skylar Jones (19 points, 9 rebounds) and sophomore Destiny Jackson (24 points, 10 rebounds, 4 steals), the Dolphins lost to No. 1-seeded Kenwood 75-63 in the Feb. 23 sectional final after splitting their two regular-season meetings. Benet beat Kenwood 47-46 at the Hinsdale Central Supersectional on Feb. 27.