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By Mike Sandrolini
PROVISO | Two of Terriel Cannon’s coaching mentors at Proviso West, Marques Hatch and Kellee Robertson, moved on to Triton Junior College over a three-year period to coach the Lady Trojans’ women’s basketball team.
Now, Cannon, a former star player at Proviso West herself in the early- to-mid 2000s, steps into the role that both Hatch and Robertson once held at Proviso West—girls head basketball coach.
Cannon, the sophomore coach at West in recent years, thanked both Hatch—who replaced Robertson at Triton in June—and Robertson for taking her under their wings.
“He’s (Hatch) been a very big help for me (making the transition to taking over as head coach),” Cannon said recently. “Coach Kellee Robertson actually gave me the opportunity to be part of the coaching staff so I basically was watching the things that she did and I learned a lot from her. Me and Coach Hatch, we kind of think basketball alike; any questions I had I always went to him. Both of them pretty much have very unique coaching styles.”
Already being familiar with West’s girls’ basketball program certainly helps make the transition to head coach a little easier as opposed to coming in from the outside.
“I’ve been part of the program for quite a while now—eight years,” she said. “I know the girls, the community and the parents. The class that’s in their senior year (this upcoming season), I actually coached them when they were freshmen.”
Cannon was a three-year letter-winner at Proviso West. During her senior campaign in 2005-06, she was the No. 3 guard on the Chicago Tribune’s list of the Top 50 girls basketball players in the area. That year, she averaged 13 points and eight rebounds per game. She then moved on to Northern Illinois, finishing her collegiate career in 2010-11 (she was red-shirted one season) and seeing solid playing time with the Huskies.
“Proviso West is a home away from home for me,” Cannon said. “It’s a great opportunity for me to come back here. Looking at being the varsity coach, it’s always something that I wanted to work towards, and with her (Robertson) and coach Hatch both prepped me and prepared me, it’s exciting for me. I’m very excited to step up and head up the program.”
Cannon comes into a situation in which the Panthers lost seven seniors to graduation –seniors who were instrumental in lifting West to a 19-9 overall record and the championship of the West Suburban Conference Silver Division last winter.
“Those seniors have been a part of the program for a very long time,” she said. “We’ve known those girls pretty much before they came through Proviso West’s doors. It was kind of exciting to see them grow and learn and see the progression to their senior year and going on to college.
“We’re in a rebuilding stage, but from looking at the summer, going through summer leagues and things like that, there’s a lot of potential. Of course, it will be hard to fill those seven seniors’ shoes, but I think that they (players who are either returning or will be new to the varsity team) are pretty talented.
“I think that they can handle it. They’re working hard; they’re putting a decent amount of hours in at practice; they come in for individuals; they come in for group workouts. They’re showing that they want it. It’s about continuing where we left off at.”
Cannon said she and the team are going “to take it game-by-game” when they take the court in November.
“We’re in a difficult conference,” she said. “Each game we’re working towards getting better than the next. Just keep working hard and taking it game by game so that each game is better than the last game we played.”
One thing Cannon would like to do is get the Panthers deeper into the playoffs. In recent years, West has performed well during the regular season, only to be eliminated early in postseason play. Last season was a prime example. They won the conference championship and were seeded third in their sectional, yet were ousted in the regional semifinals.
“Last year we won the conference championship so hopefully we can be in that position again this year,” she said. “Then we always get bit by the curse of losing in that first round of regionals so if we can overcome that hump … we’ve got a couple of goals that we have in mind so we’re all pretty much on the same vision with that.”