It's not often that sports teams live up to the hype—let alone do it for three-consecutive years.
The Bolingbrook Lady Raiders have a chance to make good on their No. 1 objective this weekend: a IHSA 4A state championship.
But how did the Lady Raiders get to this point? Well, aside from hard work and dedication, the season unfolded with plenty of ups, and a few downs.
Or, a bit something like this :
September 10: With more than two months before the team hit the hardwood, rumors were already swirling that Bolingbrook's head coach, Tony Smith, , by becoming an assistant coach at Eastern Michigan University.
September 15: Five days later, those rumors—reported true by even Eastern Michigan officials—were thwarted when Smith announced he was .
November 10: With talk of Smith's departure well behind them, several members of Lady Raiders were putting pen to paper, .
November 18: Not to be outdone, one of Bolingbrook's finest—this time junior forward Morgan Tuck—.
November 27: The Lady Raiders open their season with a , which at the time was considered one of the best high school teams in the country.
November 28: Bolingbrook grabs its second win against Hillsboro, this time .
November 29: Fresh off two wins to open their season, the Lady Raiders are tabbed as the No. 4 best team in the country by ESPN HoopGurlz.
December 9: in Patch Preps' high school girls basketball power rankings. The Lady Raiders would never relieve that post. Later that day, , led by 14 points and 10 assists from senior guard Ariel Massengale.
December 13: The Lady Raiders are announced as the , looking up to only Mater Dei, the consensus No. 1 team in the nation.
December 14: Relentless on both ends of the floor, Bolingbrook uses its aggressive nature to .
December 16: Junior guard and Waubonsie Valley-transfer Kierra Ray quickly establishes herself as a cornerstone of the team by dropping eight points and adding seven steals in a .
December 18: The Lady Raiders are in the desert. And despite a valiant effort from the Santa Monica (Calif.) Lady Vikings—one of the nation's best teams at the time—.
December 20: When push came to shove—literally—the Lady Raiders held back and dominated inside and out to beat the Riverdale Baptist Crusaders 67-44 in the second round of the Nike Tournament of Champions.
December 21: Bolingbrook loses its first game of the season, , a team that would eventually become the nation's top-ranked team according to ESPN HoopGurlz.
December 22: It may not have been the ideal scenario, but the Lady Raiders—carrying the No. 2-seed in the Nike Tournament of Champions—got to face the No. 1-ranked Mater Dei. The two teams battled and ultimately, Mater Dei came out victorious. Bolingbrook loses its second game in a row, .
December 29: Despite losing to two of the best teams in the country on back-to-back nights, the Lady Raiders .
January 4: The Lady Raiders kick off the new year in fine fashion, with a 61-40 win over Homewood-Flossmoor. But .
January 6: The Lady Raiders respond to Smith's public call-out by . Smith says, "This is the normal Bolingbrook High School way."
January 14: Bolingbrook drops its first triple-digit effort of the season in a .
January 17: Just a handful of days after posting triple-digits against Joliet West, the Lady Raiders again by beating Montini in the McDonald's Shootout.
January 18: Morgan Tuck scores a season-high 28 points and the Lady Raiders hold the Joliet Central Steelmen scoreless in the first quarter.
January 20: Coach Smith credits the bench with playing tough and contributing in a . "We had a hard practice yesterday and the bench came out and showed that they want to be a key part of what we do," Smith said. "We need those guys to come up big for us because they don't always get the reps. Tonight was their night to show everybody that they can play also.”
January 25: Same old, same old. Lady Raiders score early and often, rest their starters and sail to another victory, this time an .
January 27: Senior guard Ariel Massengale is the master conductor of a 30-0 third-quarter-closing run as Bolingbrook wins 79-23 against Sandburg.
February 7: Ten different Lady Raiders score in .
February 10: On the same day she was named a McDonald’s All-American, Bolingbrook’s star senior guard, Ariel Massengale, scored 11 points in the first quarter to help the Lady Raiders pull away from Joliet Central early. Lady Raiders win.
February 11: Lady Raiders show Homewood-Flossmoor what a well-oiled machine looks like on the hardwood in the team's final tuneup before the playoffs. .
February 15: Bolingbrook starts its playoff run in grand fashion, embarking on a quest for a third-straight state title. The Lady Raiders stormed out of the gate, going on .
February 18: The Lady Raiders emerge from the Romeovile regional with district bragging rights and an IHSA Regional title behind Morgan Tuck's 19 points. .
February 21: . The Lady Raiders rode junior Morgan Tuck's strong effort on the block, which featured 26 points and eight rebounds, to a 24-point win and a spot in the Romeoville Sectional finals.
February 24: Bolingbrook's Ariel Massengale took it upon herself to carry her teammates to a sectional championship, pouring in a game-high 22 points in a 20-point win against Benet. .
February 28: The Lady Raiders storms out of the halftime locker room with an unmatched edge as Ariel Massengale scores 12 of her 17 points in the second half to .
Tonight: Bolingbrook takes on Whitney Young in one of the most highly anticipated games of the year. Game time set for 8:15 p.m.