DOWNERS GROVE – It makes sense that Sarah Costello is holding the lone basketball in Downers Grove North’s girls basketball team photo.
The Trojans had several standout players this season, but with Costello leading the way on and off the floor, they had their best season in years.
North claimed its first West Suburban Silver conference title and won a regional title for the first time since the mid-90s. Costello, the Suburban Life all-area team MVP, was the heart and soul of the team.
“Sarah was definitely the biggest leader on our team,” sophomore guard Jaida Green said. “She was always able to pull us together. She played with so much heart, especially this season, and it was kind of contagious. When she would get excited, we all fed off that.”
Of all the standout performances she has had in a four-year varsity career, Costello may have saved her best for her final two high school games. She scored 28 points and grabbed 18 rebounds as the Trojans edged York in the regional championship game, then she scored 12 of her team-high 19 points after halftime while pulling down 13 boards in a season-ending loss to Batavia in a sectional semifinal game Feb. 25.
“She just refused to lose,” North head coach Stephan Bolt said of Costello’s effort against Batavia. “She just wasn’t ready to be done yet, right down to the end [against Batavia]. I’m sure if we say right now let’s lace them up and play again, she’d go do it in a heartbeat.”
Watching Costello play, it was difficult not to come away impressed. She displayed terrific shooting range (44 3-pointers, second on the team), but was also confident with the ball in her hands driving to the hoop. She was a lockdown defender who finished second on the team in points per game and was the team’s leader in rebounds. She was only 12 rebounds away from averaging a double-double for the season. There doesn’t seem to be a weak spot for the University of Indianapolis recruit.
“She can rebound, she can pass and she can shoot, and those are skills she’s honed over her career,” Bolt said. “She made it her goal to get better in every aspect, and she did that over the course of four years.”
Of all the staggering statistics, Costello might be most proud of her team-leading 149 assists, a sign of her strides as a leader on the floor.
“Just being more of a leader and being more vocal on the court, and being able to be a point guard and direct traffic and help everyone out,” Costello said.
On a team that had just three other seniors (Paula Gutierrez, Colleen Honn and Sydney Huggins), Costello also did her part in helping instill a winning mindset on a team that should have several key pieces returning.
“I’m just proud of how we all came together. Every game we were always there for each other,” Costello said. “We just have a new mindset at Downers Grove North and we all know that now. I just tried to pass on what I know to them. It’s all about team now. We’re all there for each other.”
Sarah Costello by the numbers
13.3 Points per game
9.6 Rebounds per game
5.1 Assists per game
3.6 Steals per game