For Freshman Phenom Lily Quintero, Basketball is More than Just a Game

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Madeline Dold ('24)

Lily Quintero gets ready to sink a free throw against Eastern.

Rapper Ghostemane is on blast in Lily Quintero’s ears as she walks onto the shiny gym hardwood. Dibart gym seems eerily quiet except for the faint noise coming from her earbuds as she walks over to the rack and picks up a ball, stepping toward the three-point line.

With the heavy rap playing, she pushes the bangs away from her eyes, a maneuver she has to do often these days. It is just Lily, a ball and a basket, yet whether she is playing in games or alone on the floor, her mentality is always the same- to be the best.

Quintero sets her feet and launches a high-arcing shot with perfect form, the type of form that takes years of practice to perfect. Splash. Nothing but net.

The freshman phenom has been shooting like this all season for the Cougars. Standing at 5’10, she is taller than the typical high school guard, but Quintero only uses it to her advantage.

“My dad has trained me to be a guard,” she said. “32 is my real number, my favorite player was Magic Johnson.”

The Hall of Fame Laker legend stood above his opponents at the guard position, allowing for mismatches- a tactic that Quintero has learned to use over the years.

Quintero’s older sister was only somewhat taller and played forward through high school and at Haverford University, yet Lily has taken on a more dynamic role, learning to play as a bigger facilitator on the court.

So while her sister may be her biggest influence, Quintero is destined to pave her own path within the game. She has Division 1 aspirations and a professional mentality when it comes to the sport of basketball.

Whether it be 7 a.m. workouts or late night AAU practices, Quintero dedicates all of her effort to perform at the highest level.

“I run, lift and play almost every day,” Quintero said. “I know the standards as to who can be…I know what I have to live up to.”

That type of killer instinct is a rare quality in high school athletes, but Quintero is the epitome of a workhorse. Nobody puts more pressure on Lily than she does, and because of this she is able to block out all forms of doubt or praise, only getting better with each dribble.

“I have played AAU with kids one or two years older than me over the past few years,” Quintero said.

Quintero shoots a corner three from the baseline. (Madeline Dold (’24))

She started playing basketball at the age of 8. As a young child, her dad had high expectations that only grew as the years went on and the ability began to shine.

Fast forward to this season, and Quintero was the focal point of the East Girls’ Varsity team, scoring more than any girl, as well as being the anchor on defense.

Books and Basketball is the organization that Lily has been with for several months after stints with other AAU teams. This team has not only sharpened her physical game, but Lily’s mental aspect as well.

Yet no matter the strict circumstances, Quintero always seems to use basketball as an outlet instead of a nuisance or a job.

“I need to play,” Quintero said. “I have had medical issues before, and whenever I am without the game it is like something is missing.”

In 4th grade, Quintero was in the hospital for weeks, and the main thing she could not live without was basketball. No early workouts, no nightly scrimmages. She had lost part of herself.

Today, it is that same passion for the game that consumes Quintero every morning. With Ghostemane vibrating in her ears and a ball in her hands, Quintero believes that this love of the game could blossom into a future for her.

“I want to be the best player I can be. I want to be my best person.”