Annihilating southwest

Langston McHenry, Sports Writer

Walking into a high school gym usually brings excitement whether it’s for a gym class or a basketball game.

Unfortunately for opponents of the Lady Vikings, it has been the complete opposite.

Averaging a 27 point margin of victory, the Vikings quickly make their presence known to their opponents.

“I think it’s pretty fun blowing out every team we play in conference, but then again I like playing against competition,” junior guard Nadia Green said.

However, the fun doesn’t come easy. According to head coach Anthony Smith, the team focuses on defense in practice “quite a bit.”

“I am a more defensive minded coach, and teams generally work on the things that their coach puts a high priority on,” Smith said. “We make it important in practice, and communicate our expectations about what good individual and team defense should look like.”

Having 6’5 junior center Eva Rubin in the paint also helps.

“On defense I can alter and block a lot of shots,” Rubin said. “Off of a rebound or block I can quickly find a guard to get a fast break going.”

With the speed the Viking’s backcourt possesses, the fast break is one of their main weapons. With almost every basket coming from an assist, the connection that this team has is evident.

“One of the best parts of being apart of this team is how close we are,” Rubin said. “This team is closer now than what we were last season or my freshman year.”

After a 72-68 overtime victory over Trinity that sent the Vikings to Illinois State last year, the Lady Vikings eventually lost to state champion Benet Academy. They would end their season with a fourth place finish.

“It was great going downstate to see how it’s like and being on that stage,” Green said.

During their week seven rematch, the Vikings were able to avenge this loss, with a thrilling victory against the Lady Redwings. After being tied with 31 seconds left, Green drove to the basket and kicked the ball out to Shaniah Bishop, who drained a three with one second left on the clock.

The Vikings won 55-52.

“We lost to Benet downstate last year, and that was a game we should have had,” senior guard Lindzy Cox said. “We knew that it was our chance to get back at them and we took advantage of that opportunity. This game was very important because it gave us a peek of the types of teams we will see in the playoffs.”

Returning eight players from last year’s state finalist team, the Lady Vikings have made it clear that their plan is to bring home a state championship.

“Our plan to get back downstate is just to continue to work hard and play as a team,” Green said. “If everybody does their job and plays their role, we should be good.”

With only a few regular season games remaining and playoffs nearing, the Lady Vikings have a dominant lead for the Southwest Suburban Red conference championship. However, they will have to maintain their dominant style of play if they wish to achieve their goal.

Smith has faith that his team will be ready.

“One of the strengths that this team has is the ability to raise their level of play in big games. It’s important for teams to recognize key moments in the game or the season, and they have improved in that respect as the year has gone on,” Smith said.

“Another strength that this team possesses is that every kid is capable of contributing. That makes it hard for other teams to key on one or two things you do and helps to motivate our team to keep improving,” Smith said.

If this team continues to improve, Rubin’s dreams of becoming a state champion wouldn’t be far off.
“It would be the greatest feeling in the world. It would make all our hard work worth it and prove everybody who doesn’t believe in us wrong,” Rubin said.