A season to remember

The girls basketball team had their season come to a close on Monday Feb. 23rd in the sectional semifinal.The team faced off and suffered a tough loss against the Fremd Vikings, who currently rank second in the state. This year, the Bison girls were regional champions, third runners up of the Mid-Suburban East and winners of the Bison Classic Thanksgiving tournament ending the season with a record of 21-11.

The season started out great for the team, winning 12 out of its first 13 games and with a state ranking as high as ninth in the state, according to the Daily Herald. After the cold stretch in which the team lost six of the next 10 games, the girls experienced a revival.The  team  finished on a high note, winning three of their last four games of the regular season.

The Bison were lead by senior captains Brianna Kolbus, Julie Jambrone, and Maddy Callahan.  The three student leaders had a huge impact on this season’s success according to coach Stephen Kolodziej.

“Our captains did an outstanding job of leading this group to back-to-back regional championships,” Kolodziej said. “First 20 win season since 2008, as well as our first time winning BGs Thanksgiving tournament since 2007.”

Kolbus had high praise for this year and will not forget this team for what it has  accomplished.

“This team was by far my favorite,” Kolbus said. “We had a lot of success this year, and I couldn’t have asked for a better season.”

While the girls enjoyed a great deal of success this year, it could not have been done without the improvement of each individual member of the team.  According to Maddie Welter, a junior member of the team, she improved on her defense as well as the ability to drive to the basket and Kolbus said that she improved her aggression on the offense and becoming more vocal on the court. For Sammy Stejskal, a junior member of the team, it was the ball handling and her shot improved the most throughout the year.

When the regular season ended, the girls had eight days to prep for an aggressive Lake Zurich team. According to Kolbus, they spent the eight days leading up to the game focusing on improving their defense as well as focusing on themselves rather than worrying about what the other team would do. In that game, the girls started out slow but in the end they won that game by a score of 53-49.

After the win versus Lake Zurich, the girls had to play a Stevenson team who was coming into the game hot after winning their conference.  The girls did not back down from that challenge.  They played a complete game and won their regional 59-55.

Since they had won the regional, they had now advanced to the sectional round of the State playoffs. They had to play one of the premier teams in the state.  It would be a tough task that they would have to encounter but they would not back down from the opportunity to beat one of the best teams in the state.

The girls started out strong getting out to a 7-2 lead, and then it just went downhill from there.  Fremd went on a huge run and just dismantled the Bison. At halftime, the Bison were down 16 and finished the game down by 16 point, with a score of 63-47.

Senior Chris Topalis was at Palatine High School to watch his sister Georgette and to support some of his friends and fellow classmates.

“The girls had a great season and should be proud of themselves for all that they have accomplished,” Topalis said. “It was truly fun to watch.”

According to Stejskal, the team this year had a “never give up” mentality, and it was never was out of a game until the clock read zeros across the board.

“Throughout the year our team learned to continue to persevere when we were down in the game or losing games,” Stejskal said. “We didn’t hang our heads, we kept fighting back.”

After the rough, heartbreaking loss, Kolodziej told his group of girls, that, to him, they had become more like a family throughout the year.

“They have so much to proud of,” Coach Kolodziej said.  “We shared in a few moments of tears as we reflected on the experiences we shared together.”

Along with Kolodziej, Jambrone was saddened to lose the game, but wishes she can go to battle with her teammates again.

“The feeling in the locker room was indescribable,” Jambrone said. “I could not ask for better teammates to go to battle with and I would do it all over again with them if I had the chance to.”