Two weeks into the season, the Hyde Park Academy girls basketball team is so far undefeated.
The Lady Thunderbirds captured their first win against Englewood STEM High School (65-28) at the season opener on Nov. 15. A week later, they beat four schools in the annual Turkey Tip Off tournament, claiming the championship title on Nov. 22.
"I like this group," said head coach Corey Morgan. "I think they have the potential of being really good. I think most of the girls got involved this summer in the off-season, and they took it upon themselves to go get some individual training to work on their game."
This season’s starters are younger than usual. Three players that Morgan spotlighted are only sophomores: guards Samaiyya Williams and Makiya Horbook, and forward Kiera Wilson.
Williams, who Morgan said is one of the best shooters at Hyde Park High School, is a transfer from Glenbard South High School in the city’s western suburbs.
Other players to watch are last year's team MVP and junior forward Jazmyne Bynum, who was named the Turkey Tip Off Tournament’s most outstanding player. Bynum is the niece of former NBA player Will Bynum, and scored 26 points alone during the first game of the season on Nov. 15.
She also led the state with nearly eight steals a game last season, and was named a 2021 All-Chicago Public League and All-State player.
Morgan has also added transfer and junior center Mia Gaines to his starting five. A 6’4 newcomer from Disney II Magnet School, Gaines is already averaging 13 points and 10 rebounds per game.
"I think having (Gaines) who can run and play the perimeter and passing lane is one of our biggest additions," he said. "She's a post, but she's a mobile post. She's long, lanky and gets in people's way. She runs the court really well."
Despite last season’s unimpressive 14-10 record, the Lady Thunderbirds made it to the IHSA Regional finals where they lost to Walter Payton College Prep (51-29). This year's team is mostly focused on player improvement and consistency, as well as making a deeper run in the state playoffs.
"We lucked up on two transfers that fell on our lap," Morgan added. "I do think we'll be better than last year."
The next Hyde Park Academy girls basketball game is against Kenwood Academy Wednesday evening, Dec. 7 at Kenwood Academy, 5015 S Blackstone Ave. Tip off is at 6:30 p.m.