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WINDING JOURNEY: Lily Homan’s Basketball Life Has Taken North Clarion Senior Through Both Valleys and Peaks

FRILLS CORNERS, Pa. (EYT/D9) — It’s been a strange journey for Lily Homan, fraught with pitfalls and setbacks.

But also a lot of triumphs and fond memories.

When Homan, now a senior on the North Clarion girls basketball team, was a little girl just learning how to dribble, pass and shoot — her father, Skip, by her side — she never fathomed the experiences she would have on the basketball court.

And off of it.

(Pictured above, North Clarion senior Lily Homan)

Homan grew up inside gymnasiums. Her older sisters, Ava and Lindsay were basketball players. Standout ones, too, both surpassing 1,000 points in their careers at Venango Catholic. Her father, a hoop coach.

It’s only fitting that the Oil City native would immerse herself into the sport, too.

“I started off a long time ago with my other girls and (Lily) was just a little six-year-old coming to practice,” Skip said. “It’s been fun. It’s been fun to be a part of it.”

Lily was heavily influenced by her sisters and her father. By the time she hit high school, she was already a burgeoning star as a point guard. As a freshman at Venango Catholic, she put up 14 points per game. As a sophomore for the Vikings, she put up 20.3 points per night.

Then the girls basketball program at Venango Catholic was scuttled and both Homans were suddenly without a team.

It was a stressful time. Lily Homan opted to transfer to North Clarion. It was her first year playing for a coach other than her father and it took time for her to adjust to a new team and staff.

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Her scoring dropped to 12 points per game. But North Clarion had a talented roster and a balanced attack. The Wolves won their first 14 games and finished 19-7, falling in the District 9 and PIAA playoffs.

Without Lily Homan, who had to sit out because of transfer rules.

“You know, it’s been a crazy two years,” Lily said. “The transition was really hard and not playing in the D9 playoffs was even harder. But I did my best for the team. We worked hard as a team and this year we’ve worked hard again. It’s been a lot of team play.”

Lily Homan is excelling again this season, averaging 19.2 points per game for North Clarion, which is 16-4 and playing well again after a setback in a showdown against Redbank Valley.

Homan’s rebounds and assists are also up.

And her father is back on the bench with her.

Longtime North Clarion girls basketball coach Terry Dreihaup resigned and Skip Homan quickly through his hat in the ring for the vacant position.

He was hired in the summer.

It was a special reunion for the Homans, especially since it was Lily’s final high school season.

“You might want to ask her how special that is,’” Skip quipped.

“At first I was like, ‘Oh, geez.’” Lily said, chuckling. “Then I was like, ‘OK. I’m used to it. I know what it’s going to be like. He’s been my coach my whole life and it was definitely a change last year when I didn’t have him. I enjoyed connecting with him on the court.”

The key has been compartmentalizing basketball from regular life.

“When I walk in those gym doors, it’s focus time,” Lily said. “I’m here to work and I leave everything else outside of those door. When we go home, we leave everything inside those walls.”

Earlier this season, Lily also matched her sisters by reaching 1,000 career points.

“Hitting that milestone was great and now I’m just trying to get the rest of my team points and shots, just moving the ball around and taking time to run plays and slow down when we need to control it,” she said.

Lily has also shown a penchant this season for coming up clutch.

She had just five points heading into the fourth quarter on Monday night against Karns City, but scored 10 in the final frame to lead a North Clarion to a comeback win. She also had 10 rebounds and five assists.

“I’m just trying to do my best for the team,” she said. “I’m working with them the best that I can, making good passes to them so they could get open shots. Just working together, facilitating the offense has been my focus. We have some pretty good players. Working and playing with them has been really fun.”

Lily is also feeling the pressure of a ticking clock.

She attends to study nursing in college. With that demanding major, she is unsure if she will play basketball at the next level.

That has made this season even more important to her.

It may very well be her last.

“I’ve been doing it my whole life and not doing it will definitely be a big adjustment,” she said. “I’m going to miss it a lot. But it’s for the best. Right now I’m taking in every moment. Living it up and having fun.”