By Steve Reaven
For The Mash

Linnae Harper possesses the type of proficient all-around game that sometimes makes it hard for onlookers to determine at which skills she truly excels.

One area that’s not hard to identify as being a strength, though, is the Whitney Young junior forward’s rebounding prowess.

“I’ve been strong in the paint from the time I first started playing basketball,” said Harper, who recorded a double-double in each of the second-ranked Dolphins’ first 17 games. “A lot of times I can tell before the ball hits the rim where it’s going to go.”

Harper is talented enough that she would likely be the dominant force on a lot of area teams.

But playing on a talent-laden Dolphins squad, which includes Division I senior signees Alexis Lloyd and Janee Thompson, allows her to concentrate on parts of her game that need fine-tuning.

Among the areas she’s trying to address this winter include becoming a better ball handler, extending her shooting range to outside the 3-point arc and incorporating a floater into her repertoire of shots.

“I try to think a lot of about getting my teammates involved, trying to develop different ways of passing the ball,” said Harper, who had a 29-point, 24-rebound game earlier this season. “It’s good to go outside your comfort zone sometimes. That can only make you better.”

Individual goals aside, Harper hopes her team, which entered the week 17-0, can peak in March. WhitneyYoung won the inaugural Class 4A state crown in 2008, but lost to three-time defending champion Bolingbrook the last three years—in the state final in 2009 and 2010, and in the semifinals a year ago.

“We feel we have the type of team that can go a long way,” Harper said. “We’re going to have to continue to fight against every team we face. I think we’ll be ready.”

Shaun’Qae McMurtry
Senior, Lockport, wrestling

>> Off to a 35-1 start.

>> Won third straight Southwest Suburban Conference meet last weekend.

>> Winner at two nationally-renowned invitationals: the Cheesehead tournament in Wisconsin and the Dvorak tournament in Machesney Park.

>> Was named the field’s Most Outstanding Wrestler at the Cheesehead, in addition to the Lake Park Invitational.

Playlist: Lupe Fiasco, Kid Cudi and Paramore. “I know that’s a weird combination, but it fits.”

Plays him in a movie: “I had a third-grade teacher who said I looked like Taye Diggs, and I had no idea who he was. Now that I know (who he is), I still think it would be a good fit.”

Secret crush: “It’s more of a role model-type of thing, but I really respect Tom Brady because of his attitude and how he approaches his sport.”

Milton Doyle
Senior, Marshall, basketball

>> Forward has averaged team highs in points (18) and rebounds (eight) for the Commandos, who entered the week as the only undefeated team in the Public League Red-West.

>> Played particularly well last week, putting up 25 and 29 points in wins over St. Joseph and Whitney Young.

>> Signed in November to play at Florida International.

Playlist: Lil Wayne, Young Jeezy and Drake.

Secret crush: Beyonce. “I pretty much like everything about her.”

Overrated: LeBron James. “He’s a great player but he couldn’t even win a championship after joining with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.”

Maggie Lyon
Senior, New Trier, basketball

>> Forward and four-year varsity player averaged 21 points and 10 rebounds for the Trevians entering the week.

>> Put up a career-high 36 points in a game against Warren.

>> Signed in November to play at Northwestern.

Plays her in a movie: “I really like Taylor Swift, so she would be good. Also, a lot of people say my sister, Amy, and I look alike, so that would be a good choice too.”

Secret crush: Jimmer Fredette. “I love the way he plays. Last year, I was taken by storm by how many games he won on his own. It was great to see a player on a mid-major team do that well.”

Overrated: Kansas men’s basketball team. “My dad always picks them in the [NCAA tournament] bracket to go to the Final Four, and they always lose. I usually pick them going to the Sweet 16. I always tell my dad not to pick them [to go] that far.”


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The Mash is the Chicago Tribune's newspaper and website written for teens, by teens. The paper is distributed for free every other Thursday at Chicago-area high schools and is written largely by high school students.

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