If you’ve watched Mother McAuley this winter, you may have noticed senior guard Maeve Egan.
She’s the one who’s always smiling, no matter the situation — whether it’s meeting with the referees before the game as a captain or with her teammates in a tight situation down the stretch.
That’s her form of leadership for the Mighty Macs, according to senior forward Morgan Feil.
“We all joke about that,” Feil said of Egan. “Practice, games, she always has a smile on her face. She’s smiling and happy and motivated, and I think that really helps the team.”
Egan helped her team again Monday night as McAuley opened the Class 4A playoffs with a 58-30 victory over Richards in a Lyons Regional semifinal game in La Grange.
Feil led all scorers with 17 points for the Mighty Macs (24-7), while sophomore guard Quinn Arundel chipped in with 12. Egan scored six points on a pair of 3-pointers and added three steals.
But she did plenty more than that. Take the third quarter, for instance, when her stellar defensive play led to two key turnovers for McAuley that seamlessly blended with a 17-1 run.
This is the postseason, however, and for Egan there’s also that sense of urgency you would expect. For example, she wasn’t exactly pleased with her team’s somewhat sluggish start.
“We started off really slow,” she said. “It wasn’t what we wanted our play to look like. We picked it up in the second half, and it was fine. It was a good win, but we’re not settling.
“We want to keep going.”
For the record, she said that last part with a countenance of serious determination.
Richards (11-16), meanwhile, received eight points and seven rebounds from senior guard Iyanah Crosby. But nobody else on the Bulldogs scored more than four points.
Curtis Lewis, who is in his second year as the Mighty Macs’ coach, didn’t know much about Egan entering the job but learned very quickly about her infectious personality.
“When I first got to McAuley, that was one of the things I noticed about her,” he said. “People lead in different ways. I think for her, it’s a smiling situation when it might be a two-point game in the fourth quarter where the team can get some form of relaxation.”
As a seventh grader in 2019, Egan watched McAuley finish as the state runner-up in Class 4A.
The player Egan identified with was point guard Jenna Badali, who led the Mighty Macs with 13 points in a 58-46 loss to Maine West in the championship game. Badali is now playing at Lewis.
“I went to that state game and I watched her,” Egan said of Badali. “I liked how she played and how competitive she was.
“The environment was just crazy. The McAuley student section is really like no other school.”
Egan also played volleyball for McAuley, winning state not once but twice.
She wants to experience that one more time before she heads off to play basketball at St. Xavier and study communications sciences and disorders, with plans to become a speech pathologist.
“It’s a feeling like no other, really,” Egan said of winning back-to-back state titles. “People hype it up, but it’s truly worth the hype.
“Morgan and I talked to the team at the beginning of the season and said we want to experience this with you guys and make it downstate.”
The next few weeks will test her leadership skills, but her grin should translate to wins.
“I may not be the most vocal, but energy feeds off each other,” she said. “And this game is a game of momentum a lot of times.
“If I’m positive and getting everyone going, everyone will be positive.”
Gregg Voss is a freelance reporter for the Daily Southtown.