The Hyde Park Academy Lady Thunderbirds are headed to the IHSA sectional semifinals after a Class 3A regional championship win over Perspectives Leadership Academy, with a final score of 68-36.
With the victory on Feb. 16, the Lady Thunderbirds have clinched the first regional title for the school in more than five years.
“I think our team defense was just tenacious,” said head coach Corey Morgan after the game. “I told the girls that offense sells tickets and defense wins championships. But tonight, they really locked in and defended. And I thought that was a key to victory tonight.”
Hyde Park secured an early 20-3 lead in the first quarter, reaching 40-14 by half-time; they held strong throughout the game.
Sophomore guard Makiya Horbook was a sensation on the court, registering 16 points, two steals and one block. Mia Gaines, the 6’4 junior center, also displayed a 16-point performance alongside seven blocks. Sophomore guard Samaiyya Williams was another major asset to the Lady Thunderbirds, scoring 19 points.
"We shared the ball and played good defense," said Hornbook. "We shared the ball and played as a team. We weren't being selfish with the ball. We weren't thinking about just getting a win."
This win held a little extra meaning for Morgan: it was his 202nd victory in 11 years of coaching.
Morgan started his head coaching career at North Lawndale College Prep, then went to Perspectives Leadership Academy for a year before accepting a head coaching position at Hyde Park in 2017. In his fifth season with the Lady Thunderbirds, he recorded his 200th victory after the 73-23 win against Lake View High School in the Jan. 31 Chicago Public League (CPL) playoff game.
“It feels amazing. We didn’t realize it was 200 until I was on lunch at work. I went back and tallied everything up ... I just felt special; it feels good and it’s just something to be proud of.”
Though the Lady Thunderbirds were narrowly eliminated in the CPL elite eight against Lane Tech by a buzzer-beating shot (with a final score of 50-49) last month, Hyde Park players are feeling good about the IHSA sectional semifinals.
"I think we need to make smarter decisions and keep a good IQ in the game," said junior forward Jazmyne Bynum. "And have less turnovers; we made a lot of turnovers this game."
The Lady Thunderbirds now advance to the sectional semifinals to play against St. Ignatius College Prep, who are ranked ninth in the Class 3A division. Although they're unranked, Morgan said the team is ready to take on tough competition.
"It's a tall task ahead of us," he said. "I'm just telling the girls to take it one day at a time and live in the moment."
The IHSA Class 3A semifinal match will take place on Feb. 21 at Goode STEM Academy, 7651 S. Homan Ave. The game will start at 7:30 p.m.
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