Huge season ends for Grayslake Central and 'Big Three'
It hit Kate Bullman harder than anything Montini threw at her and her Grayslake Central basketball teammates.
The reality for Bullman: No more games playing with fellow senior, forever-teammate and friend Madeline Mussay.
"Madeline and I have played together since before middle school," Bullman said. "I've just seen her grow as a player and a defender."
Then Bullman could no longer hold back the tears.
"Just to think that I'm never going to get to play with her again ... it's hard," Bullman said. "We always talk about the Big Three -- me, Amanda (Kocialkowski), Madeline -- defending. I'm never going to get to defend with them again. Defense was our thing."
Monday night at Elgin Community College, defense was Montini's thing. Offense was Montini's thing, too. And while the Lady Broncos dominated all game en route to a 55-33 win in the Class 3A supersectional, for the Rams, the experience was hardly a bad thing.
Grayslake Central saw both its 22-game winning streak and dream of advancing downstate end, but coach Steve Ikenn noted his team was the only one from Lake County that got to play in March. And while the Rams couldn't join the 2003-04 team as the only one in program history to win a supersectional, their 30 wins tied the school record set by the '03-04 squad.
"No matter what happened in the game, I'm so proud of everybody who played, who didn't play, because everybody was a huge part of this team," Bullman said after Montini won a supersectional for the 13th time. "There was not one single person who I could look at and say, 'You weren't a part of the team.' I love everybody from the bottom of my heart."
There were positives to the end for the Rams, despite never leading against Montini, which bolted to a 7-0 lead before Bullman scored on a drive midway through the opening quarter. Bullman (team-high 11 points) grabbed 7 rebounds to pass Morgan Dahlstrom and become the program's all-time leading rebounder with 984.
Mussay, the hard-nosed soccer player, took 2 charges.
"The kid's got the heart of a lion," Ikenn said of his point guard. "She got hit by freight trains each time."
That's the toughness Mussay displayed each night. That's the fearlessness her teammates displayed each night.
"I think all of us had the mentality and [toughness] to hustle and get on the floor," Mussay said. "Even if you fell, there was someone there to pick you up."
Starters Kocialkowski and Lauryn Cartee also graduate.
"She's a super important part of our team a well," Bullman said of the 5-foot-7 Cartee. "She can defend post players so much better than even I can. We needed that."
A program that hadn't won a sectional championship in nine years needed this season.
"You want a positive?" Ikenn said. "We went 30-4. One game does not define a team. We had a heck of a run."
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