32 | November 27, 2019 | the mokena messenger SPORTS mokenamessengerdaily.com Athlete of the Week Girls basketball 5 10 Questions with Azyah Newson-Cole Knights turn up the pressure for hot start Mokena resident Azyah Newson-Cole is a freshman guard on the Lincoln- Way Central girls basketball team. How long have you played basketball and when did you get started? I started for real when I was in third grade, but I’ve really been playing since I was 2. My mom signed me up for a rec league in Park Forest in third grade, so I’ve been playing ever since then. Did anyone else in your family play? My uncle, Brandon Cole played basketball [at Rich East, Xavier and professionally overseas], so it’s been in my family. You just moved to Mokena over the summer. What’s that been like? It was pretty weird at first. I’ve never really been around people outside of my race. Now it’s a majority of the opposite race. But everyone has been really welcoming and I really like the town I’m in. What’s it like being a freshman in the starting lineup on varsity? My dad says it’s like being thrown to the wolves, but it’s fun. You get anxious out there and try to be ready to prove yourself, but technically you’ve already proven your self. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t be in the starting lineup. So my dad and my mom tell me not to think of myself as a freshman, because I’m out there playing with grown women. What do you feel like you can add to the team? I feel like I can add a little spice. I can add aggression, turning up the speed. If you could be anybody else for a day, who would you want to be? Zendaya. I like her style and I like her personality and her height. She’s really beautiful, too. I love her hair. You’re stranded on a deserted island and can have an endless supply of one food. Steve Millar/22nd Century Media What do you want? Fruit and yogurt parfaits. I could eat those all day. I love yogurt. What is your favorite TV show? “Vampire Diaries”, “Riverdale” and “The Originals.” They’re just interesting, mysterious shows and they make you stand on your toes and wonder what’s going to happen next. Who would you pay to see in concert? Ariana Grande. I love her. She knows that she’s in the spotlight, but at the same time she’s herself, too, so I love that. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you want to go? Australia or Bora Bora. Interview conducted by Sports Editor Steve Millar. STEVE MILLAR, Sports Editor Lincoln-Way Central wants to utilize its strengths as a speedy, athletic team to consistently put pressure on its opponents with inyour-face defense. Knights senior Regan LoConte knows that style is something that requires a team to go hard from start to finish. She felt the Knights were able to do that in their season opener against Joliet Central on Nov. 19. “I think we turned up the intensity and came out strong,” she said. “Last year, we didn’t always have that pressure at the beginning. This game, we were pressuring the ball from the start.” The Knights forced Joliet Central into a whopping 30 turnovers and came away with a 46-39 win at home. LoConte led the way with 23 points and five rebounds. Junior Haley Stoklosa had a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds, plus five blocks and three assists, while freshman Azyah Newson- Cole scored eight points in her high school debut despite being limited by foul trouble. The Knights were strong defensively again two days later, beating Andrew 34- 21 on Thursday, Nov. 21. LoConte had 12 points and four steals, while Newson-Cole chipped in eight points, five rebounds and four steals. “We have a little more Lincoln-Way Central’s Regan LoConte fires a jumper during the Knights’ 46-39 win over Joliet Central on Nov. 19. LoConte scored 23 points. STEVE MILLAR/22nd Century Media firepower than last year, but we’re still going to have to grind out wins,” Central coach Dave Campanile said. “We were able to do that [against Joliet Central]. Joliet Central went 24-7 last season and advanced all the way to a Class 4A sectional final, so the opening win was especially impressive for the Knights. “When we open with a team like this, they’ve become a much more difficult opener to the season than they were four years ago,” Campanile said. “I told the girls I know they’re not the same team as last year, but [Jalysa Stokes and Allasha Alexander] are back for them and they were starters last year. “We knocked off a team that had a great run last year, and that’s a big confidence builder for us.” LoConte, known mostly as a three-point shooter in the past, showed off her more diversified game. She buried three shots from beyond the arc, but also drove for a couple buckets and was able to consistently get to the foul line, pouring in 10 free throws. Newson-Cole was also impressive attacking the basket. She was in foul trouble throughout, and fouled out midway through the fourth quarter, but came up with some big baskets along the way. “We try to let her go as much as possible, and she made some great decisions of when to attack,” Campanile said. “The foul trouble limited her, which was really tough. But she did a great job in her first game as a freshman.” Newson-Cole enjoyed her debut. “It was fun,” she said. “I was a little anxious. I feel like I just need to slow down and relax more. It was enjoyable to hear the crowd cheering and stuff, and to see my teammates happy.”
mokenamessengerdaily.com 36 | November 27, 2019 | the New leNox patriot sports SPORTS the mokena messenger | November newlenoxpatriotdaily.com 27, 2019 | 33 22nd Century Media chose the best girls volleyball players based on coach and writer recommendations, as well as player statistics, in its seven-town southwest suburban coverage area to place them on one super team — Team 22. The team features student-athletes from Lincoln- Way Central, LW East, LW West, Providence Catholic, Andrew, Lockport Township, Tinley Park and Sandburg high schools. —Compiled by 22nd Century Media staff First team OH: Izabela Gorys, senior, Providence 317 kills, 245 digs. All-GCAC Red, All-Tournament at Rich East and Oak Lawn. Six-rotation player was the Celtics’ go-to player at the net, helping them reach a sectional final for the first time since 2005. Headed to Eckerd College for beach volleyball. OH: Brianna Haggerty, senior, Andrew 279 kills, 161 digs, 35 aces. All-SWSC Red. Dynamic offensive weapon led the Thunderbolts to their first sectional championship game appearance since 2003. Committed to North Carolina-Wilmington for indoor and beach volleyball. OH: Jess Pappas, senior, Lincoln-Way East 275 kills, 200 digs, 18 aces. All-SWSC Blue. Already a top offensive player, Pappas became much more well-rounded this season, playing all six rotations consistently for the first time and making major contributions on defense. Signed with Wisconsin-Parkside. OH: Shelby Stefanon, senior, Sandburg 278 kills, 240 digs, 30 aces, 19 blocks. All-SWSC Blue. One of the most well-rounded players in the area, Stefanon was as effective in the back row as she was in the front. She helped Sandburg win 34 games and its first sectional title since 2004. M: Leena Ajibola, senior, Lockport 152 kills, 55.5 blocks, 46 digs. All-Tournament at Plainfield North. No other area player made as much of an impact in the middle as Ajibola. Lockport coach Nick Mraz said her 55.5 blocks “do not do justice to how many good touches she had and how often she disrupted what the other side wanted to do offensively.” S: Ava Porada, junior, Lincoln-Way East 612 assists, 179 digs, 26 kills, 19 aces. The only junior to crack this tough first-team list, Porada was the top table-setter in the area. In addition to her assist totals, she was strong defensively and a tough server. L: Rachel Krasowski, senior, Sandburg 705 digs, 111 assists, 45 aces. All-SWSC Blue. Good luck getting a ball down with Krasowski in the back row. The DePaul recruit, who led the Eagles to the Elite Eight, shattered her own singleseason school digs record of 541 from her junior season. Her 2,136 career digs are also a school record. Honorable mention OH: Katie Barry, senior, LW Central; Katie Little, senior, LW West; Gillian Peterson, junior, Providence; Sidona Rao, sophomore, Sandburg; Juliana Warfield, sophomore, Providence RS: Emma Kein, senior, LW East. S: Haley Farrell, senior, Sandburg; Dovile Gorys, sophomore, Lockport; Abby Lab, junior, Providence. L: Kylie Adams, senior, Andrew; Amelia Bresnahan, senior, Tinley Park; Brooklyn Condon, sophomore, LW Central; Vittoria Conte, junior, Providence; Kirsten Leitshuh, senior, LW West. second team OH: Emily Kleffman, senior, Tinley Park 413 kills, 114 digs, 45 aces, 24 blocks. All-SSC Blue. School record holder for season and career kills. OH: Taylor Morgan, senior, Lockport 251 kills, 189 digs, 44 aces, 22.5 blocks. All-SWSC Blue. Committed to Southern Illinois. RS: Keegan Carey, junior, Sandburg 269 kills, 65 digs, 28 blocks. RS: Nadia Goich, junior, Lockport 186 kills, 95 digs, 41 aces, 22.5 blocks. All-SWSC Blue. Committed to New Hampshire. M: Ellie Watson, junior, Sandburg 128 kills, 74 blocks. S: Nicole Ramirez, senior, Lincoln-Way Central 567 assists, 192 digs, 48 aces. All-SWSC Red. L: Kaleigh Ritter, junior, Lincoln-Way East 471 digs, 36 aces, 30 assists.