The year, the players, the location and even the playoff round have changed over the last five seasons.
But what has been a constant in Illinois high school girls basketball since the 2007-08 season is that when Bolingbrook and Whitney Young meet in the playoffs, it’s by far the most significant game of the season.
That will be the case again when No. 1 Bolingbrook and No. 2 Whitney Young face off in the Class 4A Hinsdale super-sectional on Monday. It’ll be the first time in five years the two teams won’t meet in the state semifinals or championship.
“It’s the same game, just different players, different year and different place,” Bolingbrook coach Anthony Smith said on Sunday. “That’s all. It still means the same. It’s important because the winner has the chance to win a title. That’s what both programs are trying to do, what both programs are about.
“Everybody would have liked the game to be downstate. That’s not our call. That’s not our decision. We just got to play our game. The game is a little bit earlier than usual.”
The impact hasn’t been altered. The winner of Monday’s game will be highly favored to win the Class 4A title. History tells us that.
For the last five seasons, no team in Illinois has come close to matching what Bolingbrook and Whitney Young have accomplished.
Whitney Young has gone 149-12 in that span, with only six in-state losses. They lost to Bolingbrook three times, lost to Marshall twice in the 2007-08 season and lost once to Maine South in last season’s Class 4A third-place game.
Meanwhile, Bolingbrook has gone 137-12 with only two out-of-state losses. They lost to Whitney Young in the regular season and in the state championship during the 2007-08 season. They haven’t lost to an Illinois team since then.
The 2007-08 season was also the last time Bolingbrook and Whitney Young met during the regular season. The Dolphins hosted the game and defeated Bolingbrook 64-44 on Nov. 24, 2007.
Smith said he’d be willing to play Whitney Young again if it traveled to Bolingbrook to play.
“Whenever Young makes the trip back out here, we’ll love to go back out there and play,” Smith said. “They haven’t refused. They just haven’t done it. I guess they haven’t had the time to come out.”
Luckily for high school girls basketball fans, both teams have taken care of business in the playoffs the last five years and met each other.
In 2008, Whitney Young defeated Bolingbrook 54-45 in the Class 4A championship game. In 2009, Bolingbrook won 53-29 in the Class 4A championship. In 2010, Bolingbrook won 60-50 in the 4A championship. Last season, Bolingbrook pulled out a 50-49 overtime win in the Class 4A semifinals and went on to defeat Zion-Benton in the title game.
“I guess it’s kind of a rivalry,” said Whitney Young senior and McDonald’s All-American guard Janee Thompson, who has never defeated Bolingbrook in her career. “We see it as they ended our season last year. They’re a good team. We enjoying playing them.”
The two teams meet again this year following another dominant season by both. Led by McDonald’s All-American forward Morgan Tuck, Nia Moore and Kierra Ray, Bolingbrook is 26-1 with its only loss coming to nationally-ranked Cicero-North Syracuse from New York. The Raiders are currently ranked No. 3 in the country by ESPNHS. Led by Thompson, Linnae Harper and Alexis Loyd, Whitney Young is 31-0 and is ranked No. 6 in the country.
“I think we are the two best teams in the state,” Smith said. “I think it’s great any time you can get the best teams to play with that much talent on the floor. That’s good for the whole state, for girls ball here.”