From middle school to starting for TFS basketball – Gigi Dillon’s double-double journey

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Gigi Dillon
Freshman Gigi Dillon has made an immediate impact for TF South girls basketball. (Photo: Mike Clark)

Scores from TFS, TFN, and Marian Catholic

By Mike Clark

TF South

LANSING, Ill. (January 11, 2022) – Middle school basketball to high school basketball is a big jump.

But Gigi Dillon seems to be adjusting to that leap just fine. The freshman forward put up her latest double-double on Tuesday night, when she helped rally TF South past visiting Richards 62-59 in a South Suburban Conference crossover.

Dillon scored 18 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, both team highs, as the Red Wolves came back from a 13-point deficit. Her night was capped by a steal and free throw in the final seconds to help South move to 17-4 overall and 4-1 in the SSC Blue.

Hard to believe Dillon was playing for Coolidge Middle School in Phoenix a year ago,

“It’s faster than middle school,” she said of the pace of the high school game — especially the up-tempo style TF South often plays. “I can say I had to pick up a lot. And then being a starter, I had to boost my confidence and just play.”

One thing that helped Dillon make the transition was competing against older players on the AAU circuit.

“I wouldn’t say I was ready until we got into the season,” she said. “But yeah, now I am. About four or five games I was struggling, but after I got used to it, it was like, I’m not going to back down.”

Dillon is another key piece for South, which remains a young team in spite of returning much of last year’s conference champ club. There are only two seniors on this season’s roster, and Tuesday’s starting lineup featured three juniors, one sophomore, and one freshman.

Dillon adds another dimension to South’s diversified offense. On Tuesday, sophomore Tariya Wright and junior Jaiden Thompson both scored 14 points, while junior Rayvan Rush added 12. That kind of balance makes it hard for opponents to gear their game plan to any one Red Wolves player.

Even more impressive about putting four scorers in double figures was that South did it without yet another junior mainstay, Cherish Boothe. She was sidelined by injury, but is expected back soon.

Dillon, who is averaging around eight points and 11 rebounds a game, didn’t come into the season with great expectations.

“I didn’t know I was gonna be a starter until we (were) going to get our names called out at our first game,” she said.

Dillon takes pride in being more than just a scorer: “I want to clean the glass.”

South coach Eric Bryce talked to Dillon over Christmas break, setting the bar for her for the rest of the season. The message: “We get that you’re a freshman. But you’ve played now 20 varsity basketball games, which is more than some people play in their entire career. You’ve got to start stepping up. We’re going to start going through you. So when I say post up and we’re going to start throwing you the ball, you’ve just got to go do what we can do.”

Based on Tuesday’s game, the message seems to have been received loud and clear.

Boys basketball

Sam Townsend scored a game-high 20 points as the Red Wolves beat Richards 84-71 in a SSC crossover Tuesday night in Oak Lawn. Romello Ali added 17 points and Brien Green had 10 for South (7-7, 3-2 SSC Blue).

Girls bowling

The Red Wolves moved to 5-4 with a 1,558-1,521 win over Reavis on Tuesday at Lan-Oak Lanes.

Teniola Odutusin had South’s high series of 322, followed by Olivia Gifford (318) and Trinity Kimmons (317). Gifford rolled the high game of 194, while Kimmons had a 188 and Abby Kleidon contributed a 187.

Competitive dance

TF South took first place in AAA Poms IDTA Division on Sunday at the Maine East Invitational. The Red Wolves also finished second in AAA Hip Hop IDTA Division, 10th in Poms IHSA 2A Division and 11th in Hip Hop IHSA 2A Division.

In the IHSA 2A Division at Saturday’s Lockport Invitational, South was 14th in Poms Routine and 17th in Hip Hop Routine.

TF NorthTF North

Boys bowling

The Meteors finished fifth among seven teams at the South Suburban Blue Tournament on Saturday at Castaways Bowl in Calumet City.

North’s David Holmes finished fifth individually to earn all-conference honors and the Meteors’ Steve Twietmeyer was named conference coach of the year.

Marian Catholic

Marian Catholic

Boys basketball

Quentin Jones had 19 points and Donovan Juzang added 13 as the Spartans cruised past Niles Notre Dame 57-40 Tuesday night in Chicago Heights. James Bullock added eight points and eight rebounds for Marian (13-5, 4-3 East Suburban Catholic).

Girls basketball

Marian rolled by visiting IC Catholic 55-27 on Monday behind balanced scoring from Khamille Jackson (11 points), Taylor Bolton (10 points), Tyler Jackson (9 points) and Madison Davis (8 points). The win was the eighth straight for the Spartans (15-3).

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