Oak Park-River Forest happy Mullins is able to contribute

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Kind words go a long way with Oak Park-River Forest sophomore Katie Mullins as she adjusts to life on varsity.

“When she has her confidence she hits every shot,” OPRF junior guard Hailey Hoye said. “When people are encouraging her she’s a great, great player. I just try to encourage her as much as possible because I know she’ll hit those shots.”

Mullins has been a key contributor off the bench for the Huskies.

The 5-foot-7 guard had a team-high 13 points and seven rebounds in OPRF’s 43-35 West Suburban Silver loss to Hinsdale Central Saturday in Oak Park.

“[My teammates] were saying good things to me, which helped,” Mullins said. “When they say positive things, it made me feel better. [Playing varsity] is really fun and a good experience. I think it has helped me become a better player. I hope to do better as the season goes on.”

Mullins started playing basketball in third grade through the park district and then starred for her Ascension grammar school team in Oak Park.

She also plays field hockey, which is her favorite sport.

Mullins’ emergence on the basketball court couldn’t have come at a better time for the Huskies, who have endured an injury-riddled season.

Erin Orr and Courtney Marshall are out with ACL injures, standout freshman Chardonnay Harris is done for the season with a stress fracture in her leg and Emily Schreck is also sidelined with an injury.

“She’s improved more than any player on the team,” OPRF coach J.P. Coughlin said of Mullins. “This was her first game back from an injury. She dislocated her finger and her pain tolerance is unbelievable. Basically, I forced her to sit out. She said enough is enough and her doctor approved [her coming back]. She was awesome.”

Mullins is a dangerous weapon from 3-point territory. She buried three long-range shots against the Red Devils.

That kind of performance likely wouldn’t have happened earlier in the season.

“Starting the year as a sophomore and being her first year on varsity she wouldn’t shoot the ball,” Coughlin said. “She’s not very bashful right now, which is what we like. She listens and she works hard in practice. She asks good questions. She’s just going to keep getting better and better as she plays more basketball.”

Mullins appreciates the support of her teammates, particularly Hoye.

“She’s a good leader towards me,” Mullins said. “She says really positive comments to me and she’s really nice off the court, too. We’re good friends.”

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