In thinking about the impressive start to the season for the Oak Lawn Community High School girls basketball team after a 58-34 win Wednesday night over TF South, dominating victories are the first things that come to mind. However, when considering the circumstances surrounding this unique season, the fact that the season didn’t even start until February, and the idea that a majority of the student body is still learning in a remote setting outside of the building, it becomes evident that this team is about much more than just dominating wins.
This team is about unselfish play, relentless defense, accurate three-point shooting, and a real sense of unity. Each and every one of those descriptors for a team with a record of 5-0 overall and 4-0 in the South Suburban Conference thus far can all be traced back to the ferocious dedication for excellence from head coach Mark Sevedge.
Yes, the team boasts nine stud returning seniors and an outstanding junior. Yes, the emergence of sophomore Kate Dillon catches the eye and other teams’ attention. Yes, the fact that anyone of 10 or 11 players can lead the Spartans in scoring on any given night heeds recognition. But, the attitude and execution are exactly what Sevedge and assistant coach Mike Trotta have developed through countless hours of coaching, scouting and sheer determination in the middle of a pandemic.
“I feel that our team is playing so well because they truly care about one another, they enjoy being in the gym and putting in the work, and they were committed to getting better when a lot of other schools weren’t doing a whole lot,” Sevedge said. “It is really a credit to our girls, their parents, and our administration that we as coaches were allowed to be with our players when the state’s health and safety protocols and the Illinois High School Association allowed us to be.”
“Whenever we could be in the gym, we were. The players were dedicated to getting better. During this crazy time in their lives while they are experiencing a universal pandemic, it gave them a sense of some normalcy to be together playing ball. And for that, we are thankful.”
Guard play from seniors Emma McGrath, Cynthia Nunez, Arianna Andersen, and Rose Savaglio keeps the pace of the game and the integrity of each offensive set intact. Their defense is equally tenacious. The outstanding play of junior Mia Kennelly, instinctive play of Kate Dillon on the wing, and the smooth inside moves of senior center Carolyn Soukouna certainly establishes an inside-outside threat like few teams have. And the ability to add in minutes from Heather Jackson inside for the Spartans show they can go deep into the bench to remain fresh. It is a team in the truest sense of the word.
“I believe that the keys to our team’s success so far this season are that we have great senior leadership who are making sure that our attention to detail is there in practice while going over our scouting reports,” Sevedge said. “Also, we have the ability to score the ball in multiple ways. We have been able to get a lot of points in the paint this season through Carolyn, and we can space the floor with multiple shooters behind the arc like Mia, Cynthia, Kate, Emma, and Arianna.”
Just watching pregame warmups and listening to the pregame discussion, the preparation by this coaching staff stands out. However, watching the intensity and accuracy with which the team carries it out during the game on the court makes it all a complete package. The Spartans are simply rolling. They are averaging a 27-point differential, scoring 58.4 points per game while only allowing a mere 31.2 points per game to their opponents.
“It was a really nice win [Wednesday vs. TF South] and just a great team defensive effort by our kids,” Sevedge said. “They’ve just been so locked in to what our plan has been for each game.”
The Spartans continue the season Friday on the road at Shepard. This team is definitely worth checking out, and easiest way to do that with limited fans allowed into games is to subscribe to the OLCHS Athletics YouTube Channel for broadcasts of all home games.