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Lyons' O’Reilly brings tennis lessons to basketball

01/30/2013, 8:02pm CST
By Rob Valentin

Lyons senior Christopher O’Reilly brings skills both to and from the basketball and tennis court.

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

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.”

O’Reilly has a versatile style of play that benefits 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.~.

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