By James Kay
Lyons Township's program has the most promise of any of the schools on this list. LTHS is led by Meghan Hutchens (former UIC guard and RBHS alum) and is coming into this season with one year under her belt as head coach. The Lions went 14-15 last season and averaged 45.8 point per game. If you are expecting the same results, you are in for a surprise this season. Here are three reasons you need to follow LTHS basketball in 2019-20.
As the old saying goes, defense wins championships and this season, it is going to win LTHS a lot of games. At practice, Hutchens has her team covering all 85 feet of the floor with a stifling full court press. In the half court, LTHS has the size and quickness to switch on defense and avoid mismatches that smaller teams like Oak Park and River Forest will try to exploit.
"With this year's team, we have become faster, taller, and a lot stronger," said Hutchens. "With all of those elements, it changes the way we can play the game. If you want to stick in games, you have to be defensively sound. Our model this year is turning defense into offense."
Even with a 14-15 record, the Lions were fourth in the conference in points allowed per game (47). While Glenbard West and Downers Grove North boasted better defensively numbers last season, the team seems confident it can compete with the elite teams in the conference.
"Last year, we didn't have the length at all," said senior Erin Purcell. "We feel like having more height this year to add to what he had last year is going to give us an advantage over some teams this season."
Twin Towers Adaora Ezike and Lily Courier
In the NBA, they say you can't teach seven feet. Well in high school hoops, you can't teach being 6-foot-2 either and that is what junior postwoman Adaora Ezike is bringing to the team this season.
Her size is going to be crucial for LTHS this season as Glenbard West's senior center Taylor Huff has one more season of dominating post players (she is 6-1). However, Downers Grove North and York high schools, both who finished in front of the Lions last season, don't have players that over 6 feet tall (according to MaxPreps' website). There are going to be nights where Ezike is going to be the tallest player on the court and seeing her take out opposing front courts is going to be a treat for spectators.
Ezike partially tore her ACL in summer league and is still nursing a knee injury that has kept her from being at 100 percent but she isn't too concerned about her health moving forward.
"I feel confident that I am going to come back strong," said Ezike. "With practice and more physical therapy I will definitely get [back to 100 percent]."
Another reason to watch LTHS basketball this season is seeing Lauren Courier get her 1,000th career point. She currently stands at 904 points and will have all winter to get to that milestone. During practice, she exhibited a level of elusiveness around the rim that you would expect from a playmaking guard. But at 6 feet, Courier is quick and has a chance to tear up opposing defenses.
"I kind of forgot I was approaching [1,000 career points]," Courier said through laughs.
"If [Courier] gets her 1,000 point against DGN or York I don't know what you will hear from our bench," said Purcell. "We are going to go crazy."
Downers North rivalry
Every high school team has that one conference foe who gets under its skin in a way that lingers throughout all levels of basketball. For this group, it is Downers Grove North. After trash talking and light sparring ensued last season, LTHS is ready to clap back at their rivals, who beat the Lions by 14 points in their last meeting.
"DGN and York … oh my, yes, those are the two," said junior Lindsey Hahn. "Some of us have beef with some of the players at DGN and it's just a game we look forward to. It's good competition and we all push each other. But yeah, we want to win that one."
Mark your calendars: the teams square off in Downers Grove on Dec. 14.