By James Kay
On Dec. 20, the Lions blew out Oak Park and River Forest High School, 57-25, as Lily Courier torched her conference foes with a game-high 19 points. Afterward, Huskies head coach Jim Coughlin was asked what teams have to do to stop Courier. He laughed and shook his head.
"With a player like Lily, you don't stop her," said Coughlin. "You can only slow her down."
Before her senior season, Courier racked up 904 points despite only playing 75 games in her first three years due to injuries. Her scoring average has gone up each season (she averaged 9.8 PPG in her first year and averaged over 14 a game last season) and has put her team in position to win its first conference championship since 2016.
Her dominance on the court also led to Courier accepting a scholarship at Lewis University last November.
"One of her best attributes as a player is that she isn't afraid to fail," said LTHS head coach Meghan Hutchens. "She's always confident in taking the last shot and allows us to have that confidence in her. She is a tremendous leader and her teammates believe in her."
Even when she was in seventh and eighth grade, Courier was putting everyone in the area on notice. Hutchens, an assistant coach at the time, remembered hearing about the next great athlete coming to LTHS. After Courier impressed everyone in summer league practices heading into freshman year, the decision to bring her up to varsity wasn't difficult to make.
"You never want to bring a kid up [to varsity] and not play them," said Hutchens. "When we thought about the kids on the team, Lily's talent and her potential, we knew we were making the right decision to bring her up. We are very grateful that she ended up being the player she is today."
While she has proven to be an elusive front court weapon, Courier dealt with a litany of injuries that sidelined her for much of her career. She suffered a major concussion at the end of her sophomore season when she was hit in the temple during a game. According to Hutchens, Courier had to see a specialist because it affected her vision.
However, she bounced back the next season and played 29 games and averaged 14.9 points, 7.3 rebounds and 5.4 free throw attempts per game.
"I've gone through a lot of injuries, but I think it has made me stronger," said Courier. "It's been nice being able to bounce back."
The injury bug struck one more time in the opening minutes of this season when Courier sprained her ankle attempting a shot in transition. She was sidelined for the first eight games of the season before she got a call from her doctor saying she was cleared to play against Downers Grove 15 minutes before the game on Dec. 14.
In limited minutes, Courier put up 12 points, 10 rebounds, and two blocks off the bench and helped fuel the Lions to an overtime win versus the Trojans. The Lions are 10-3 since her return.
"When we found out Lily could play [against Downers Grove], everyone was fired up," said Hutchens. "You could feel it in that first quarter how happy they were to have her back."
Seven games later, during LTHS' annual Pink Out event, Courier scored her 1,000th point as a Lion when she hit a three with 3:26 left in the first quarter against Hinsdale Central. The game stopped for a moment to recognize Courier's milestone.
"It's pretty exciting," said Courier after the game. "I feel I've worked hard, and it's finally paid off. We've been waiting for this game, and it's nice it happened."
While winning a conference championship is her top goal in her final season at LTHS, Courier is glad to have the college selection process out of the way.
"It is nice to have that off my mind so I can just focus on playing basketball," said Courier. "The opportunity to play for Lewis is definitely exciting and it felt like the place I wanted to go during my first visit. But my mind is here right now, and I am hoping we can win conference since we haven't done that since I've been here."