There's not a single player on Bartlett's girls basketball team who didn't contribute to Thursday night's exhilarating 54-51 overtime win over Wheaton Warrenville South in the championship game of the Class 4A Hoffman Estates sectional.
From the starters, to the role players, to those who never took their warm-ups off, the way Bartlett kept its cool in the face of adversity is what team basketball is all about.
But when it came to crunchtime, it was Haley Videckis' time to shine, just as the Hawks' senior leader has done all season.
Forget the fact she hasn't gone through a practice since sustaining a 12-stitch gash on her hairline in the regional final.
Forget the fact she made just 1 of 6 shots in the first half and spent as much time on the bench as on the floor.
You can even forget the fact she was a very uncharacteristic 1-for-8 from 3-point range for the night.
You can forget all that because when it came down to crunchtime, Videckis put her team on her back and carried the Hawks to their first sectional title since 2005 and a date against DeKalb in Monday's supersectional at Elgin High's Chesbrough Field House.
That's right, the Hawks have withstood the pressure of being the Daily Herald's No. 1 ranked team since Thanksgiving. They're 30-1 and a win away from girls basketball's big stage at Redbird Arena.
And while every single player on Bartlett's team can be proud of their individual contributions to the team, they can also be thankful they have a Haley Videckis around to take control of a game when someone needed to.
“That's what a senior is supposed to do,” said Bartlett coach Denise Sarna, who can say that pretty much after every win since 99 percent of the time Bartlett has all seniors on the floor.
But this particular senior is showing exactly why she'll spend the next four years playing in the Big Ten at Indiana. On Thursday, she never wavered. She may have been frustrated, as all the Hawks were with a subpar first-half performance, but to Videckis those 16 minutes were just a warm-up.
“I considered the first half as a practice back for me,” she said. “I had to overcome a lot of adversity. You just half to keep talking out there and let your teammates know you're going to win it. It wasn't a Bartlett first half. In the second half we just really lit the fire.”
And Videckis had the match. She scored 9 of her team-high 19 points in the third quarter, helping the Hawks stay close. Then, with 4:30 left in the game and WW South clinging to a 39-38 lead, she broke out of a pack and got free for a loose-ball break — like she's done time and again in her career — and scored the layup to give Bartlett a 40-39 lead, the Hawks' first advantage since being ahead 12-11 late in the first quarter.
Then, when it came to overtime, it was her show. After the Tigers scored first to go up 49-47, Videckis drove to the basket, scored and was fouled. The free throw put the Hawks up 52-49. The momentum had clearly swung, and it was Bartlett's game from that point forward.
“She's our team leader,” Sarna said. “Everyone settled down as the game went on but Haley was a big part of that. When you have all these seniors that's what they're supposed to do, and they all delivered in crunchtime today.”
You can never have a conversation with Videckis without her talking about the team and not herself. That's because the Hawks are a team, and that showed more than ever while Videckis was struggling to find her game Thursday.
Like Janessa Baker, the fiery point guard who WW South chose to leave alone on the perimeter too often and who nailed three huge 3-pointers. Or like Kristin Conniff, whose basket with 27 seconds left in regulation tied the game at 47. Or like Katie Gutzwiller, who made 1 of 2 free throws with 30 seconds left in OT to extend the lead from 3 points to 4. Or like Lisa Palmer, who fought her way to 11 rebounds among a sea of Tigers who appeared to have 3-4 players in the lane for every missed shot. Or like Nicole Gobbo, who was cool as a freeze-pop in handling the basketball when she was in the game. Or like Ashley Johnson, who was her usual steady self off the bench and hit a 3-pointer to give the Hawks that 12-11 lead in the first quarter.
“That's the thing about our team,” Sarna said. “We've always said we're not a one-girl team.”
But when it came down to the end, when WW South's Sierra Bisso appeared to have an open look for a 3-pointer and the tie as time was running out, there was Videckis with a clean block, a block that ended one of the most exasperating 36 minutes of basketball you'll ever want to see.
“What can you say about Haley? She played like a champion,” Sarna said.
And that's what the Hawks are — sectional champs, with one more step to take before they can board the bus for Redbird.
firstname.lastname@example.orgCopyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.