Orange basketball ball on wooden parquet. Close-up image of basketball ball over floor in the gym

Girls Basketball: Oak Lawn off to strong start, takes 2nd at Lady Spartan tourney

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By Randy Whalen
Correspondent

Mia Kennelly has not forgotten the impact the program’s seniors had on her the past three seasons.

Now, as the Spartans’ only senior, she has embraced the role of being a leader.

“It’s been very different being the only senior on the team,” Kennelly said. “But I like helping the younger girls. It will be their team next season. I want to help them get prepared for that.”

That’s what the senior guard has been doing this season, and she has helped Oak Lawn to a strong start. Entering this week, the Spartans are 10-3 and placed second at their own Lady Spartan Holiday Tournament that concluded Dec. 18.

Kennelly had 10 points and six rebounds in the 44-26 championship game loss to Lockport. She and junior forward Katelyn Dillon (11 points) both made the All-Tournament team.

The Spartans were glad to have the opportunity to host the tournament for the first time in two years, with the 2020-21 canceled because of the pandemic. They are looking forward to having a great second half of the season and competing for their second straight South Suburban Red title.

Oak Lawn’s conference championship last spring was its first since 2014.

“It was really fun getting back after it,” Kennelly said. “It felt good to host the tournament and play in the title game. We fought and I like when teams like Lockport play harder against us. That will help get us ready.”

 

Porter Power
Lockport (10-4) held the Spartans down with stifling defense en route to their eighth consecutive victory and the Lady Spartan title. Oak Lawn led 17-11 with 4:40 to play in the second quarter after a steal and layup by Dillon, but the Porters got six points from senior forward Emily Villasenor (12 points) during a 13-2 spurt to end the first half.

Lockport led 24-19 at halftime and continued to play good defense in the second half, limiting Oak Lawn to just seven points. Lockport freshman Alaina Peetz scored 43 points in the tourney and was named MVP.

“It went downhill and they just played harder than us,” Dillon said. “But it felt good to make the All-Tournament team. Me and Mia are like a duo, we see each other on the court well.

“We just have to keep playing defense and stay strong.”

The Spartans lost nine seniors from last season’s team to graduation and feature two freshmen starters in guard Jacky Canales and forward Danielle Dempsey.

“So to be 10-3 is very positive,” said Oak Lawn coach Mark Sevedge. “Mia has been our hardest worker the past three or four years. She’s certainly a leader, but (junior guard) Rose Savaglio has been phenomenal as a leader, too.

“We weren’t able to do it against Lockport, but a key to our success has been our ability to knock down shots. We are looking forward to playing more tough teams at the Sandburg Holiday Tournament.”

The Spartans will travel to Orland Park for the tourney to be held Dec. 27-29.

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