Holly Lueken reaches milestone, leads Mustangs
Holly Lueken was unaware she was approaching a career milestone.
The Downers Grove South star wasn’t going to make a big deal out of it, anyway.
Lueken, a 6-foot junior forward, scored her 1,000th career point on Dec. 28 at the Oswego East Holiday Classic.
When asked about it the next day, she downplayed the accomplishment.
“I had no idea,” Lueken said. “I didn’t know it was going to [happen] that game, so it was exciting. It was a big win.”
Indeed, Lueken was more excited that her milestone came during a win over Oswego East that put the Mustangs into the tournament championship game.
Downers South came within a second of beating Lincoln-Way West for the title, only to lose 52-50 on a 3-pointer at the buzzer. The loss ended a three-game winning streak by the
Mustangs – though Lueken scored a team-high 19 points, including a three-point play with 20 seconds left that gave them a 50-47 lead.
Downers Grove South (10-7, 5-1 West Suburban Gold) bounced back to beat Morton 79-58 on Jan. 6 behind Lueken's 28 points.
“I really owe everything to my teammates and my coaches who have helped me along the way,” Lueken said after the title game. “My teammates have helped me become a better player overall and it’s easier when everyone is playing for each other.”
In fact, Lueken is the best player Downers South has seen in many years. The Division I prospect is a three-year varsity player who has 1,055 career points. She leads the Mustangs in scoring with 19.7 points per game and averages seven rebounds.
Lueken is the first player in coach Lyndsie Long’s tenure to reach 1,000 points.
“That’s pretty spectacular,” Long said. “I didn’t tell her she was near it, so she was kind of surprised.
“I’m very proud to be able to coach a player like that [who] is going to play D1. She works extremely hard for all the effort she gives and all the accomplishments she gets. It’s well-deserved.”
Lueken, who projects as a small forward in college, is the type of player prized by high school coaches. She is long and lean enough to give defenders fits with her perimeter shooting and physically tough enough to take the ball to the basket.
This season she has dramatically improved her rebounding ability, teaming with 6-1 senior center Jennifer Masello to form a potent inside game.
But it is her unassuming nature that gets noticed by teammates such as freshman Meghan Stapleton.
“Holly is always really positive,” Stapleton said. “She brings so much energy.
“She’s able to create on the floor and she can rebound and she can shoot. She’s just good all-around.”
Stapleton, the first freshman to start for South since Lueken, is benefitting from Lueken’s leadership.
“She’s a really good positive role model for me,” Stapleton said. “She helps me keep my head high.
“She encourages me to keep working hard even when [things] are hard. It’s really easy to work with her.”
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