February 22, 2024

Benet senior Shannon Earley didn’t play basketball final season, however she had cause.

Earley determined to return this season, and Benet coach Joe Kilbride fortunately welcomed her again, with equally good cause.

“I took a yr off for my journey lacrosse,” Earley mentioned. “I used to be a basketball and soccer participant earlier than I began taking part in lacrosse. I dropped soccer in fifth grade to concentrate on lacrosse primarily and basketball second.

“As quickly as I acquired to highschool, I used to be taking part in on a very high-level lacrosse group known as Lakeshore Lacrosse and traveled loads with them.”

It didn’t take Earley lengthy to grow to be among the finest lacrosse gamers within the state. As a freshman, she was the Redwings’ second-leading scorer, main them to fourth within the state.

As a sophomore, the 5-foot-11 Earley additionally earned a state medal in basketball, showing in 10 video games and scoring 10 factors because the Redwings completed fourth in Class 4A.

However Earley was closely recruited for lacrosse final fall. Between campus visits and journey tournaments, she didn’t really feel she had time to decide to basketball. Benet ended up reaching the 4A state championship sport.

“I wasn’t certain if I’d nonetheless be doing camps all through the winter to be recruited,” she mentioned. “The method labored out fairly rapidly for me, which was fortunate, however I didn’t wish to give (Kilbride) a wishy-washy reply. So I simply instructed him straight up that I used to be out.”

Earley ultimately dedicated to Notre Dame, the alma mater of her dad and mom and grandparents. However she wasn’t prepared to surrender her basketball profession for good.

“I made a decision to return again, and (Kilbride) was good to welcome me again this yr,” Earley mentioned. “I’m actually blissful to be again.”

Welcoming Earley again was a no brainer for Kilbride. With twins Maggie and Emilia Sularski being the one different seniors, Earley fills an essential management area of interest.

“Oh, completely,” Kilbride mentioned. “She’s a Division I athlete. You’ll be able to by no means have sufficient of these.

“She’s slot in very well. A part of it’s she’s a really high-character child. She performs actually laborious, and he or she slid into a job.”

That function is to again up sophomore Emma Briggs at middle. Earley and the 5-11 Briggs are forwards who must play middle because of Benet’s relative lack of dimension.

“She’s a large a part of the group,” Briggs mentioned. “I like having her on the group. She’s not solely tremendous athletic, however she’s a tremendous particular person on and off the courtroom and really skillful.”

Earley acquired a uncommon likelihood to point out off these abilities Wednesday night time, when Briggs picked up two fast fouls towards visiting Nazareth. Earley, who performed about half of the sport, made her solely shot and contributed a team-high seven rebounds and two assists in Benet’s 51-33 East Suburban Catholic Convention loss.

“Emma is de facto proficient, so having the ability to assist her out as we speak was good,” Earley mentioned. “It exhibits that our group is de facto athletic and capable of play for one another in conditions like that.”

Earley and the Redwings (6-4, 2-1) had their arms full towards the Roadrunners, the defending Class 3A state champions, who’ve two Division I recruits up entrance with 6-0 Olivia Austin (Dartmouth) and 6-1 Danielle Scully (Ohio).

“I do know this isn’t the result we needed, however I used to be pleased with the best way I used to be capable of compete simply on the boards,” Earley mentioned “Our group is de facto younger, and we don’t have a ton of varsity expertise, so these video games are actually good for our youthful gamers simply to have the ability to be extra assured.

Naperville Solar

Twice-weekly

Information updates from the Naperville space delivered each Monday and Wednesday

“Actually, we’re sort of investing in the long term understanding that we’re not essentially going to be taking part in our greatest basketball in December. It’s when it comes all the way down to March that we must be taking part in our greatest.”

Benet’s Shannon Earley (25) tries to work around Nazareth’s Jane Manecke during an East Suburban Catholic Conference game in Lisle on Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2023.

The chemistry between Earley and Briggs, a first-year starter, will likely be one key to that. Briggs was thrilled to see Earley play so properly.

“I’m so happy with her,” Briggs mentioned. “She works so laborious at apply. It actually pays off.”

Presumably in additional taking part in time for Earley.

“She’s making an attempt to do precisely what we’d like from her, which is nice,” Kilbride mentioned. “Her function will broaden over the course of the yr as she will get extra snug and remembers what the orange spherical factor is. We’re blissful to have her.”

Matt Le Cren is a contract reporter for the Naperville Solar.