The newcomers Lincoln-Way West looked like seasoned veterans in their first ever trip to Redbird Arena.
The Warriors, led by the trio of Gugliuzza sisters didn’t let the bright lights affect their game as they beat Bolingbrook by a score of 68-57, and will face off against Fremd in the 4A title game.
“This year with our schedule we tried to put ourselves in a positions that these moments weren’t going to be too big,” said Lincoln-Way West head coach Ryan White. “They’ve never been fazed by the moment and tonight was no different.”
Taylor, Tara, and Ava Gugliuzza combined for 52 of Lincoln-Way West points. It was the eldest sister Taylor who got things going early with 17 first half points, but it was the Freshman Ava, whose big second half shots kept Bolingbrook out of arms reach.
“It felt good [to hit those threes],” said Ava Gugliuzza. “You just have to forget about the past and keep shooting.”
Bolingbrook struggled from the field and from the free throw line, which was a common theme for the Raiders on the season.
Whether it was the bright lights of the college arena, or just a normal off night, shots just weren’t falling for Bolingbrook.
“We talked about it a million times this season when we do convert laypus and free throws we’re a difficult team to beat, but when we don’t quality teams like Lincoln-Way West will beat us,” said Bolingbrook head coach Chris Smith.
“There’s nothing that prepares you, mentally it’s a grind. You’re on a big stage, a floor you’re not accustom to playing on. The lights shine a little bit brighter than they do in a high school gym.”
The Warriors will be playing in their first ever state title game in their schools young history, with a couple of additional narratives at play.
The first, being the Gugliuzza sisters high school game playing with each other, and the other being Brianna Woolridge will be facing her old team in Fremd.
Woolridge transferred to Lincoln-Way West after starting nearly every game for Fremd a season ago, and despite realizing the significance of the game, Woolridge took everything in stride:
“Honestly, I just got to get out of my own head, those are my old teammates and I’m excited to play them. It’s going to be a really good game.”
The final game of the girls basketball 2019-20 season will tip-off at 7:30pm and will conclude one of the wildest seasons in recent memory.
Let’s hope the finish is just as good as the journey.