Gillies part of championship team

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 3, 2002


LAPLACE – Although no teams from the River Parishes advanced to the Sweet 16 tournament in Hammond this season, one LaPlace resident finished her eight-year basketball career with a state-championship appearance. Amy Gillies, a senior at Dominican High School and center for the girls in black and white, took to the court Friday seeking the championship.

“It’s exciting and a little nerve-racking,” said Gillies before the game. “I think we were a little under-estimated this season, especially by Ouachita, but we played with a little more heart.”

Gillies said she was worried she wouldn’t get to play in her last game with the Dominican team when she was stricken with the flu last week. The matchup with East St. John was leaning toward the Lady Cats until the final few minutes and Gillies remained on the sidelines sick.

Good news for Gillies, her Dominican teammates surged to retake the lead and continue their climb up the bracket and into their first appearance in the Sweet 16 since Dominican rejoined the Louisiana High School Athletic Association in 1992.

“Even if we don’t win, we had fun,” she continued. “Even if we are the state-runner up, that’s something a lot of people never experience.”

Another achievement a lot of other people never experience is playing basketball year round for eight years. Gillies began playing at age 10 when a friend signed up for the New Orleans Southern Belles AAU team. She said she didn’t know much about the league and was nervous about playing against more experienced girls, but she made the team and enjoyed the game. The last two years she played with the Southern Belles, the team advanced to the final four.

“She started swimming at St. Charles Catholic, then decided she wanted to play basketball and developed a love for it,” said her father Keith Gillies. “Her mother and I both ran track, but unfortunately neither her nor her brother are very fast. But she’s pretty good at basketball.”

For the Dominican team, Gillies hasn’t been a starter during her three years in black and white, but coach Christy Thieler counts her as one of the team’s best leaders.

“She encourages the other players to dig down deep and play through their pain,” explained Thieler. “Throughout the season, she had defended some great players on the post.”

She said Gillies also had some great plays in the playoffs, including a crucial basket in the third quarter of one of Dominican’s recent games to help spark the team.

“It takes those kinds of players to win the state championship,” said Thieler.

Gillies was recently recognized for her play while attending St. Joan of Arc, where she was named to the 40th anniversary team. The team consists of the top five girls and top five boys who have played to St. Joan of Arc. In recognition, Gillies received a plaque and a banner for the team was raised in the gym.

So far, about five colleges have shown interest in her. Gillies said she plans to attend the University of Southern Mississippi, but doesn’t think she will continue her basketball career into college.

“It’s time to experience different things. I don’t know if I want to play in college or maybe for intramurals,” she continued. “But I have never had a summer off. It will be a big change and I’ll have a lot of free time, but i am going to have fun this summer.”