Kiara Lewis inherits the reins for Young

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Young point guard Kiara “Kiki” Lewis took ballet lessons when she was younger. Now she saves her best moves for the basketball court.

After Young lost three seniors from last year’s third-place state finisher including Sun-Times Player of the Year Linnae Harper, there were some who questioned whether the Dolphins could maintain the level of excellence exhibited during the Harper/Janee Thompson/Alexis Lloyd era.

But Lewis, a 5-8 dynamo who is considered one of the best sophomores in the country, has stepped in to provide the toughness, leadership and playmaking ability, which Young fans have grown accustomed to.

“I think last year we missed some of the things she could have brought to us,” Young coach Corry Irvin said. “She has good speed, good shooting ability and she can run the offense. She has good size, which allows her to see the floor very well. She can see over a lot of the people who guard her.

“Right now, I’m trying to get her to talk more on the court. But she can do all the other things a point guard can do. Because of her ability, when all is said and done, she will go down as one of the best point guards we’ve ever had, and we’ve had some good ones.”

Lewis’ mother encouraged her to take dance lessons before older brothers Courtney and Defone, who attended Julian, convinced her to pick up a basketball.

“I used to go watch them play all the time,” Lewis said. “That’s what really made me want to play basketball. I used to play with them a lot growing up.

“I don’t think either of them would be able to stick with me now.’’

Lewis has fully recovered from the right knee injury that required surgery in August 2012 and sidelined her last season, with the exception of about four minutes of garbage time during the state finals.

It was her second surgery in a little more than two years.

“You see her ability, but I have to remind myself sometimes that she missed a lot of time and still doesn’t have some of that game experience,” Irvin said.

Lewis said it was easier recovering from her second surgery, even though it involved an ACL tear.

“After the second one I knew what I had to do to get back on the court,” she said. “I don’t even think about it anymore.”

Just like Lewis and her teammates have been able to put the disappointment of last year’s third-place finish at the state finals behind them.

“We filed that away,” she said.

Right next to the ballet slippers.

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