O’Reilly brings tennis lessons to Lyons basketball
La Grange, 01/26/13--Lyons Township's Christopher O'Reilly goes up for a layup. Lyons Township High School hosted York High School in boys basketball Saturday evening. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
Tuesday Girls Basketball: vs. Trinity, 6:30 p.m.
Girls Basketball: vs. Trinity, 6:30 p.m.
Wednesday Girls Gymnastics: at Hinsdale Central sectional, 6:30 p.m.
Girls Gymnastics: at Hinsdale Central sectional, 6:30 p.m.
Updated: March 2, 2013 6:08AM
LA GRANGE — On the surface, tennis and basketball don’t seem to have much in common besides a ball and a court.
But Christopher O’Reilly sees it differently.
The two-sport star at Lyons has worked hard on honing his vision and put to use what he’s learned from being on a state-tested doubles team to playing guard on the hardwood.
“For tennis, you have to read where the ball is going to go each time (the opponent) hits the ball,” O’Reilly said. “You have to anticipate and I think that really helps in basketball because if you’re about to make a pass you have to anticipate which way your player is going to move and on defense you have to react to the pass.”
The 6-foot-3 senior isn’t just playing tennis to get out of offseason conditioning workouts. He’s a serious player. O’Reilly and Bobby Burke took fourth place in sectionals last year and won a consolation match at the state tournament.
“My mom is an avid tennis player and my brother played too,” O’Reilly said. “I’ve been playing since I was 7 or 8 years old. I go to a tennis club and play pretty much the whole summer.”
But during the winter, it’s all about basketball.
He was one of the most experienced players returning from last season so he knew early on what his role would be on the team.
“The first week of practice I was chosen as the team captain and ever since then (teammate Jarryd Heath) and I have been trying to lead the team and prepare for each game as much as possible,” O’Reilly said. “We try to lead by example. If we can play as hard as we can, people will follow us.”
Younger teammates, like sophomore guard Harrison Niego, are paying attention.
“Chris is a great player and he’s a very team-oriented guy,” Niego said. “He’s a very good leader. He definitely brings the team along and includes everyone.”
This season has brought some challenges for O’Reilly and his Lions’ teammates. Lyons is 8-12 overall and 1-7 in the West Suburban Silver. Conference losses can be especially trying because they tend to be rivalry games and have the biggest crowds.
“I think we have been playing well but the outcomes aren’t what we’ve been looking forward to,” O’Reilly said. “But I’m happy with how hard we play and hopefully the rest of the season we just keep battling. The conference games are normally big and everyone is in the zone.”
O’Reilly has a versatile style of play, which has benefited Lyons.
“He has good size and is very good at handling the ball,” Lions coach Tom Sloan said. “He’s really improved his perimeter shot so he’s a threat from the 3-point line and he’s good getting into the paint. He can score over guys and he’s an outstanding passer. On the defensive end, he’s really effective on or off the ball and he’s a good rebounder.”
O’Reilly plans to end his sports career following graduation and is looking at attending either Wisconsin or Michigan and just enjoying college life.