MORRIS – Winning its first regional title since 2007 last season, the Lockport girls basketball team intends to keep that momentum moving forward this coming season.
Another milestone for coach Dan Kelly was achieved just a month ago as he became a dad for the first time with the arrival of a daughter.
“It’s been hectic, but my assistants have done a wonderful job,” Kelly said. “She is going to be a Porter in the future.”
The Porters were only 2-8 in the always-tough Southwest Suburban Blue Conference and ended the year with a 16-14 record. But they got hot and played their best basketball at the right time last season, something Kelly hopes will happen again this year.
“Last year was a great springboard into this year,” Kelly said. “What our younger girls experienced in the tournament run is invaluable. I’m really excited about this team, and we will be bigger than we were last season.
“We lost some key seniors, ones you could count on to score when we needed. This team must learn to share the basketball because we really don’t have that one or two players who will score big points right away. But they are working hard, and they are holding themselves accountable, which is great to see and a wonderful trait for any team.”
At the recent Morris Ladies Shootout, the Porters finished as runner-up in the Gold Division, losing the finale to Minooka.
Lockport will be young and will learn on the run once the season gets started, especially with the schedule the Porters will play and the conference games.
Kaeli Ford will be among the senior leaders. Kelly said has worked hard on developing her skills and is a defensive leader on the team.
“I can’t believe it’s my senior year,” Ford said. “It went by fast, and this year, I just want to continue to be a great teammate, play hard on the defensive end, and I’ve been working on scoring a little more.
“I really like this team and when coach gives us something to work on, we go out and do it.
“The success at the end of the season last year shows that we can play with anyone, and I really like where we are at with everyone. It should be an exciting season for us.”
One of the bigs in the middle will be junior Jenna Cotter, who improved last year from game to game, played well in the tournament and is one of the tallest players in the area at 6-foot-3.
“I can tell you that the confidence we gained last year for the returning players has carried over,” Cotter said. “The freshmen and sophomores who are playing this summer give us much more height, and I’m glad they are here because it makes me work harder.
“We push each other all the time, and that can only make our team better. Everyone is fitting in, blending together, and I’m excited for the season when we get it started.”
“We use the summer to really work on our defense,” Kelly said. “It gives the girls an opportunity to bond and really get to know each other, both on the floor and just being around each other. Every season is a new team dynamic, and they are working on theirs. This is really a fun group to be around.
“But, with that said, being so young, we will be inexperienced as a team to start, but this group really picks things up quickly, and they will gel together.”