For one brief Megan Doody shining moment, her 3-pointer put Neuqua Valley ahead of Bolingbrook on Tuesday.
Then the Raiders delivered a cold dose of reality.
Three-time defending state champion Bolingbrook did to Neuqua what it has done to every other Illinois team this year, overwhelming the Wildcats 76-37 at the Class 4A Neuqua Valley sectional.
Bolingbrook (25-1), 18-0 against in-state opponents this year, is beating them by an average margin of victory of 50 points. It's easy to see why, with a lineup filled by eight Division I-bound seniors, led by McDonald's All-America Morgan Tuck.
Neuqua's effort, then, couldn't just be measured by numbers.
"We did the best we could. That was our goal coming into it, to put everything we had on the floor," Doody said. "Obviously, that's not a high school team. That's an all-star team or a college team."
Doody's 3-pointer put Neuqua (23-7) ahead 5-2 with 4:44 left in the first quarter. A pair of Allison Hedrick free throws had the Wildcats within 8-7.
Neuqua was intent on not just rolling over.
"We said before the game that if we don't even compete, then there's no use in playing the game," Doody said. "We were realistic about it, but we went in with as much energy as we could. We had a lead, and that's a memory we'll always have."
Bolingbrook had an answer for Neuqua with a 15-0 run, a 3-pointer by UAB-bound Allie Hill making it 23-7. It was 39-20 by halftime, and Bolingbrook kept coming.
That relentless attitude starts with an unorthodox practice.
"We play against teenage boys and they don't go soft against us," Bolingbrook senior Nia Moore said. "If we lose to them, we have to run, so we have to dominate them, too."
Doody could attest to what four quarters with Bolingbrook is like.
"To be on the other side of it, it's exhausting," she said. "I've never been so tired in a game."
Tuck, committed to Connecticut, led Bolingbrook's domination in the paint with 17 points and 11 rebounds. But she had company. Moore, a 6-3 Illinois recruit, also had 17 points with 7 rebounds, and 5 of the Raiders' 9 blocks.
"Nia's getting better and better," Bolingbrook coach Anthony Smith said. "She has a lot of upside. Tuck gets all the press, and she's earned it, but we have some other kids who can play."
Bolingbrook advances to play Benet in Thursday's sectional final, the Raiders looking to win their state record eighth straight title. Doody, one of just two Neuqua seniors along with Amber Smith scored 7 points and Hedrick 9.
Neuqua coach Mike Williams appreciated how his kids didn't back down against stacked odds -- while casting an eye ahead to next year. This was Neuqua's first sectional appearance since 2006, and done with seven sophomores.
"We played them hard for four quarters," Williams said. "You could tell by the way the the fans were reacting, that the players were reacting -- I'm sure they're used to teams stopping after a quarter or two. We decided that that's not going to determine what our character. If they're better they're better. The scoreboard doesn't tell the whole story. We made great strides tonight. It sets the bar higher for next year."