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Aaliyah Flores and St. Laurence regional challenge


This is one of those weeks during the winter season when freshmen become guards. Aaliyah Flores He wasn’t playing in Laurence’s season-ending game, he would be watching.

The schedule had Flores playing in the division on Tuesday and Thursday nights and watching his brother play for the men’s team at the Vikings’ regional host on Wednesday and Friday.

“It’s chaotic at home,” Aaliyah said. “A lot of games are being played. I’m doing a lot of practice.

“We support each other 100 percent”

Thursday night at Chicago’s Class 3A St. St. Ignatius Regional championship game. Flores needed that boost as Laurence lost 42-29 to Hinsdale South.

Scoring points wasn’t easy as Flores led the Vikings (22-12) with seven points. Sara Burzycki, Kathleen Martin And Clare Allison each added five points.

Amerie Flowers scored 16 points to lead Hinsdale South (25-10) in the Hornets’ game against Marian Catholic (28-7), which beat Butler 43-40 at home on Monday at 7 p.m.

St. Laurence set a winning record this season and advanced to the division final for the first time in program history. The Vikings entered the postseason as the fourth seed.

This made the first season a fun one for Flores; especially St. After Laurence defeated top-seeded Hyde Park 48-46 to advance to the regional final. He led the Vikings in scoring, averaging 12 points.

“The energy on this team was really great,” Flores said. “It was very exciting. I’ve always thought about this and dreamed about it since I was little.

“And finally, after having that moment, it was really great. I liked it. “I’m looking forward to the next three years.”

Laurence’s Sara Burzycki (right) during the Class 3A St. Petersburg Championship on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024, in Chicago. Ignatius brings the ball up the field against Hinsdale South in the Regional championship game. (Jeff Vorva/Daily Southtown)

Sophomore guard Burzycki led the Vikings in rebounds this season, averaging seven. He was a freshman in college last winter and knew exactly what Flores was going through.

“I was very nervous at the beginning of last year,” Burzycki said. “I didn’t know if he would be nervous so I tried to help him but he was pretty ready.

“He knew what to do and got along well with everyone.”

Last season, St. Laurence finished 17-16. In the offseason, former Marist and St. Xavier’s standout star Claire Austin He served as head coach. There were many new things to navigate.

“We’ve had a lot of big changes with a new coach and a new team,” Burzycki said. “But we worked so well together. That was my favorite thing. We knew how to read each other very well.”

Austin is excited about the future. He also praised his elders for their contributions.

“I learned a lot from them,” Austin said. “It was like they took me under their wing.”

St. Laurence center Ariana Vaitkeviciute plays for the Class 3A St. Petersburg game in Chicago on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024. Ignatius continues to rebound despite pressure from Hinsdale South in the Regional title game. (Jeff Vorva/Daily Southtown)

But the fact that Flores and Burzycki are making big plays at such a young age is another positive sign.

“They bring goals, they bring rebounds and they bring their overall attitude,” Austin said. “They don’t act like underclassmen. They’re not afraid to take the big shot. They’re not afraid to come in and drive against 6-foot-10 girls heading to Division I. They are ready to do anything we ask of them.

“And they’re always looking to score goals themselves.”

Flores, who has enjoyed national competition playing AAU, said he loves the game.

“Playing basketball makes me very happy,” he said. “I always respected my brother who played and that has been our job for years. “I love everything about it.”

Jeff Vorva is a freelance reporter for the Daily Southtown.


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