NORMAL – Mady Carli always believed it to be true, and now it's cemented with a trophy.
Glenbard South can play a little basketball, too.
Carli, a senior, is the last of three sisters to come through Glenbard South. Her memories are a little hazy now, but five years ago she watched big sisters Taylor and Payton win a state softball championship. It further secured the Raiders as a state power in that sport.
This season was her turn to make her own legacy.
Carli and the rest of the Raiders' basketball team did it this weekend. The 35-29 win over Breese Central in the Class 3A third-place game Saturday wrapped up Glenbard South's first appearance in the state tournament.
"I've always believed in us," said Carli. "It's a shock to everyone that we're doing this in basketball, but we're good. It's a great feeling."
Carli is one of a group of girls Glenbard South coach Morgan Kasperek had on board when she came aboard in 2015.
Girls like Carli, seniors Ally Daca and Sarah Cohen and junior Maggie Bair were the building blocks. Glenbard South went from 18 wins Kasperek's first year to 23 last season to a program-record 30 this year.
The foundation is defense.
Glenbard South held 30 of its 34 opponents to fewer than 40 points, including all seven in the playoffs.
It starts at the top with Cohen, who will play soccer collegiately at DePaul. It ends at the basket with Bair, an All-Stater who is committed to play basketball at Drake.
"We know we play good defense," Kasperek said. "That's an attitude that we established here. We've had those girls for three years as starters. There are few teams in the state that can say that. They bought in, and established a major legacy at Glenbard South.
"[Assistant coach] Tom Nussbaum told me after the supersectional that people have always thought of Glenbard South as a basketball wasteland for coaches, and you changed that. I don't think we [coaches] did. These kids did with the buy-in."
Kasperek lauded the way the Glenbard South community rallied around her kids, and it's no surprise.
It's a tight-knit family, blood or no.
Just ask Cohen, whose younger sister Lauren Cohen came off the bench as a freshman.
"Our whole team is pretty much family. She's just actually related to me," Cohen said with a laugh. "We all love each other, we're all best friends on and off the court. You can see it when we play."
The Raiders made quite an impression this weekend in Redbird. They played eventual Class 3A champion Peoria Richwoods even to the final minute.
Glenbard South trailed Breese Central 14-13 at halftime, but seized control with a 9-0 third-quarter run.
To no surprise, Bair was at the center of it.
Glenbard South's 6-foot-2 post scored on a driving layup to get the Raiders within 19-17, then scored on a lob from Carli to give Glenbard South the lead for good at 21-19.
Bair took a steal coast-to-coast for a score, then turned another steal into free throws for a 24-19 lead.
She followed up her 24-point, 12-rebound game in the semifinal with 15 points, six rebounds, four blocks and three steals. Sarah Cohen added eight points and Lauren Cohen six.
"It means a lot for us to establish ourselves here," Bair said. "I don't think people were expecting us to do this well."
Kasperek, though, wanted her girls to aim high.
She won a state title in high school at Hinsdale Central under current Glenbard South assistant Steve Gross, and she didn't see why the Raiders couldn't, too, play in Redbird.
"Glenbard South is a gritty school, and these kids work hard," Kasperek said. "This is an absolute style of program that we can establish going forward."