Growing up in Ireland, Lockport sisters Lucy and Sophie Hynes learned little basketball. ‘They are self-made.’

Lockport guards Lucy and Sophie Hynes have been in America for a little over two years.

They didn’t play much basketball in their native Ireland, so how did Lucy, a junior, and Sophie, a freshman, end up together on the varsity for the Porters?

One word — focus.

“They are self-made,” Lockport coach Darien Jacobs said. “They have learned the game and trained themselves. Their parents don’t know anything about the game.”

Their dad’s work brought the Hynes sisters to the Chicago area just before Lucy became a freshman. Back home, in Mullingar in the Irish Midlands, they played Gaelic football, which Sophie described as “soccer with your hands.”

The sisters agreed the best parts about America are the schools and the opportunities, including the chance to play different sports.

That means basketball, where Lockport plays in the tough SouthWest Suburban Blue. The Porters (12-18, 0-8) will take on Stagg in Tuesday’s Class 4A Andrew Regional semifinals.

“When I moved over, I think I just heard about the girls basketball team,” Lucy said. “I really had an interest in it. I worked hard and I was able to get on varsity.”

Sophie rarely played basketball in Mullingar — “in the backyard, once or twice” — but like her sister she worked tirelessly in eighth grade to put herself in position to take that step.

Jacobs has marveled at what they have been able to accomplish in a short period of time, particularly Lucy, who is averaging 8.8 points and 5.0 rebounds.

“She came off the bench her sophomore year, but she contributed,” Jacobs said. “A lot of times you see the big jump in the offseason, but she made a big jump prior to the season and then during the season, too.”

Lockport’s Lucy Hynes (32) defends the baseline against Lincoln-Way Central’s Gracen Gehrke (2) during a SouthWest Suburban Conference crossover game in Lockport on Monday, Nov. 28, 2022. (Steve Johnston / Daily Southtown)

That covered the full complement of skills, with ballhandling, shot taking, decision-making and guarding the post.

All that is good news for Jacobs, considering forward Veronica Bafia, Lockport’s only senior, will soon graduate. That will make Lucy Hynes the team’s primary defender next season.

“She can do it because it’s not only about her athleticism but her mindset, too,” Jacobs said.

It hasn’t been all rainbows and unicorns, however. For example, Sophie missed time earlier in the season due to a broken nose and a concussion.

“It’s been difficult working my way back,” she said.

How much has she relied on her older sister?

“More than she knows,” Sophie said with a smile.

Lincoln-Way Central's Kiya Newson (10) and Brooke Baechtold (23) try to grab the rebound away from Lockport's Addison Foster (11) and Lucy Hynes (32) Monday, November 28, 2022 in Lockport, IL. (Steve Johnston / Daily Southtown)
Lincoln-Way Central’s Kiya Newson (10) and Brooke Baechtold (23) battle for the rebound with Lockport’s Addison Foster (11) and Lucy Hynes (32) during a SouthWest Suburban Conference crossover game in Lockport on Monday, Nov. 28, 2022. (Steve Johnston / Daily Southtown)

According to Bafia, the sisters have played the game like seasoned veterans.

“I think the main thing they’ve brought is defense,” Bafia said. “They know how to get in front. Their IQ is very good on the court. They read where the pass is going and attack the basket.”

Playing varsity basketball in the Southland isn’t easy, but the sisters have taken that in stride, choosing to accept the challenge as a learning experience.

“I think the tougher competition has made us understand the areas in which we need to improve on in practice,” Lucy said.

No matter what happens in the playoffs, the Hynes sisters will walk away with a boatload of memories from their first experience playing basketball together.

For Sophie, her favorite moment this winter came during the season-opening Willowbrook Tournament, where she ended up scoring her first varsity basket. That was before her injury.

Lucy, meanwhile, takes more of an overall view.

“I don’t know if it’s one moment that stood out,” she said. “It’s just the team has gotten a lot closer, especially the last couple of weeks, so I think it’s really cool you can make friends in the sport.”

Gregg Voss is a freelance reporter for the Daily Southtown.

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