Photo Gallery: Lady Raiders Return Home With Championship Hardware
Bolingbrook celebrated with fans, friends and family members Sunday as the Lady Raiders brought home a third straight state basketball championship.
The Bolingbrook Lady Raiders have made it habit to make a trip to Normal in early-March.
So much so it caused Mayor Roger Claar to wonder aloud, "What is everyone else doing during the first weekend in March?"
There are no questions about what Bolingbrook's girls basketball team is doing during that time period—winning.
The Lady Raiders have made seven-straight state finals and Saturday night became the first Class 4A school in Illinois history to win three-straight state championships with a 71-42 rout of Zion-Benton.
Head coach Tony Smith stressed the importance of the hard work put in by the Lady Raiders throughout the year.
"It's definitely not easy playing for me. These kids push me every day because I do not want to let them down," Smith told the assembled crowd in Bolingbrook High School's gymnasium.
"I appreciate you giving me everything. I used to play ball and I tell you guys all the time, I wasn't that good. I could not do what these young ladies do every day. These girls deserve everything and they were not given anything."
According to the numbers, Smith was spot-on with his assessment that nothing was given to the Lady Raiders.
Bolingbrook defended its title with a sense of urgency throughout the postseason. The Lady Raiders hounded opponents on defense as they attempted to contest every shot, fill every passing lane, pull down every missed shot and snatch every loose ball.
Bolingbrook boasted a scoring defense that allowed an average of 39 points per night over the team's seven-game postseason run. Foes of the Lady Raiders connected on only 33 percent of its three-pointers, 41 percent of its field goals and 45 percent of its free throws.
Offensively, Bolingbrook poured in 492 points and averaged a shade above 70 points per game during the IHSA playoffs.
And as much as Sunday was about recognizing the outstanding accomplishment of a third straight state title, it was also about the players and coaches thanking their supporters and well-wishers for being there from day one.
"We just want to thank everyone for the support we've had over the years," said senior Ariel Massengale, who recognized the school board, mayor, athletic director Alec Anderson, Principal James Mitchem and Smith. "We just thank all of you guys. Without you all, this could have never gotten done."