Home Sports With 11 stitches above her eye, Josie Canellis just keeps going, scores career-high 32 points for Sandburg. ‘She is so tough.’

With 11 stitches above her eye, Josie Canellis just keeps going, scores career-high 32 points for Sandburg. ‘She is so tough.’

by staff

Josie Canellis called it “the little incident.”

Truth be told, the fall that the Sandburg senior took after being fouled during Saturday’s game against Marist at Coach Kipp’s Hoopfest was pretty scary.

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And bloody. The gash above her right eye needed 11 stitches to fix.

“I have never had a nose bleed, nothing,” Canellis said. “When I hit my head, it really shocked me at first. But once I composed myself, I got up and I was like, ‘OK, I’m fine. I just need to chill.’

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“Then I saw the blood pouring out and I was like, ‘Oh, OK. Maybe I’m not all right.’ It kind of freaked me out.”

Still, Canellis was back on the court Tuesday night for a SouthWest Suburban Conference crossover game against Andrew, which walked away with a 62-59 victory.

The Thunderbolts (12-10) came up big behind Skye Echols, who led the way with 25 points. Jessica Morawski added 17.

Canellis? She ended up having the night of her high school career for Sandburg (13-10). The 5-foot-7 guard scored 32 points — all coming in the second half.

Remarkable.

“That first half … I’d like to say I wasn’t tentative, but I obviously must have been,” Canellis said. “But then I knew I just needed confidence. Once I started making shots, I was, ‘OK, I’m feeling good.’ That boosted me.”

Sandburg's Josie Canellis (5) looks for open space against Andrew during a SouthWest Suburban Conference crossover in Orland Park on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023.

Her last 3-pointer, a shot from more than 20 feet, came with 2.3 seconds remaining. After the ball went in, Canellis couldn’t help but smile.

“My teammates were so supportive,” Canellis said, laughing. “One of my goals in high school was to break 30 points. When I hit the shot, they were all like, ‘Thirty! You broke thirty!’

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“I was like, ‘We’re still losing.’ But I did crack a smile.”

Canellis is averaging 15.5 points this season for the Eagles. She’s made 58 3-pointers.

She currently sits fourth on the Sandburg all-time scoring list with 1,163 points. Erin Cattell ranks third with 1,195, while Sarah Kustok is second with 1,242 and Erika Nelson is the all-time leader with 1,394.

Sandburg's Claire Callaghan (12) works her way to the basket against Andrew during a SouthWest Suburban Conference crossover in Orland Park on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023.

With 241 career 3-pointers, Canellis has a chance to surpass Nelson’s all-time mark of 280. Sadly, she won’t get to defend her crown in the Illinois High School Association’s Queen of the Hill competition because it was discontinued.

Tuesday, she was a warrior.

Senior guard Claire Callaghan, who has played with Canellis since fourth grade, just shook her head.

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“Oh, there was no doubt at all she’d play (Tuesday night),” Callaghan said. “A 100% no doubt. She’s a beast. She’s awesome. She gives us such a good chemistry out there. I always know when she’s going to make them. She’s just an awesome person to play with.

“It’s all a result of her hard work. I mean, she puts in the work every day. She goes in and shoots, even when we have practice, before and after. She puts so much work in, and it shows in every game.”

Andrew's Jessica Morawski (3) puts up a shot against Sandburg during a SouthWest Suburban Conference crossover in Orland Park on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023.

Canellis has never missed a game during her four-year varsity career. The streak was definitely put in jeopardy after Saturday’s situation.

“I’ve played sick a lot of times,” Canellis said. “After I injured my face, I was like, ‘Well, I’m not ending like this.’”

Sandburg coach Nick Fotopoulos was concerned Sunday when he called Canellis for a wellness check.

“Oh, man, she is so tough,” Fotopoulos said. “When I called, I asked her, ‘Hey Josie. How are you doing?’ She said, ‘My dad and I already got the gym. We’re already out shooting.’

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“I was like, ‘Come on, really? How you feeling?’ She said, ‘Well, a little bit of whiplash, but everything’s OK.’ She’s just the ultimate competitor who wants to be there for her team. That’s who Josie Canellis is.”

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