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Sports

College basketball: Local athletes win national honors

It’s not often that the area gets one national player of the week award, let alone two.

Joliet Junior College men’s basketball player Adam Taylor and University of St. Francis women’s basketball player Kaitlin Aylward both received national honors this week.

Taylor, a 6-foot-4 freshman guard from Mokena, has been named the National Junior College Athletic Association Men’s Basketball Division III National Player of the Week. He also was recognized as the NJCAA Region IV Player of the Week for D-III. 

Taylor, a former Providence Catholic team MVP, led the Wolves to back-to-back North Central Community College Conference wins over Madison College and Wilbur Wright College last week, averaging 26 points and 12 rebounds a game. He shot 54% overall with 10 3-pointers and was 10 of 11 at the free-throw line.

“I just play every game hard,” said Taylor. “I’m just going to keep battling with my guys, and we’re going to keep trying to put up wins. I’m not worried about my numbers. I’m just worried about winning for our team.” 

Aylward, a senior, was selected as the NAIA D-II Women’s Basketball Player of the Week on Tuesday.

Aylward, who became a three-time (Nov. 27, Dec. 24 and Jan. 7) Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference Women’s Basketball Player of the Week honoree, was selected from a pool of conference award winners for her performance in games during the week of Dec. 30 to Sunday.

The USF forward/center averaged a team-high 29.7 points a game (89 pts.) to go with 5 rebounds (15 rebs.), 4.3 assists (13 asts.) and 1.7 steals (five stls.) a game to lead the Saints to a 3-0 record during that span. Aylward had game-high points in all three USF contests with 29 points against Bethel, Ind. (Dec. 30), 34 versus Indiana East (Dec. 31) and 26 at Calumet St. Joseph (Jan. 4). 

Aylward, a 2018-19 NAIA All-America Second-Team selection, is the fourth player this season to win the national weekly award, joining Dakota Wesleyan’s (S.D.) Kynedi Cheeseman (Nov. 27), Catherine Shope of Reinhardt, Ga. (Dec. 4) and Emma Stille of Carlow, Pa. (Dec. 11).

The Saints are 15-3 overall and 10-0 in the CCAC after winning 13 of their past 14 games. 

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