Sky

Vanderquigs Bolster Sky’s First Repeat Chance

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After Chicago’s first-round win over the Dallas Wings, a reporter asked Courtney Vandersloot how far she wanted to advance. The point guard legend’s response, of course? “Our goal is to win the championship.” And what a journey it was for Vandersloot and wife Allie Quigley (together the Vanderquigs) last season. By retracing their career steps, fans will appreciate the beautiful couple’s passion for Windy City basketball as the Vanderquigs’ hearts beat with the midwest’s most awe-inspiring city.

Uncertain Bounces

The general public did not know about Vandersloot’s and Quigley’s relationship. Therefore, their 2018 marriage was a shock, although a happy one. Perhaps fueled by relationship momentum, the Sky made the 2019 playoffs. However, Vandersloot’s errant pass against the Las Vegas Aces led to a game-losing Dearica Hamby halfcourt shot. Even worse, the coronavirus shut down NBA and WNBA both in 2020. But Quigley provided a small measure of dignity for hoops fans by beating Chris Paul in a horse challenge.

OK, it wasn’t as entertaining as real WNBA basketball. But the event was a glimmer of hope that someday, hoops could return. Some day, the west’s greatest country could get back on the court.

And back, indeed, the States came. The WNBA set up a wubble that allowed the ladies to ball, although with no fans. And how did Vandersloot play! She set the W’s single-game assist record against the Indiana Fever with 18 dimes. Fittingly, record #17 and #18, for good measure, were to Quigley.

Sadly, the Sky faced a laughable underseeded Connecticut Sun in the wubble playoffs, frustratingly losing. It seemed the Vanderquigs would never win their long-sought championship.

Just like any good western: enter the cavalry!

Nonbeliever

Yes, Candace Parker‘s shocking signing with the Sky gave Chicago sudden hope. But, disappointingly, the Sky finished only 16-16, despite Quigley winning the 3-point All-Star contest for the third time.

Chicago needed two wins to reach the semifinals. No problem, as the Wings and Minnesota Lynx proved underwhelming opponents.

However, with a 14 game winning streak entering their double-bye, the Sun was a more formidable opponent.

Quick note: WNBA Lead reviewed L. Jon Wertheim’s and Tobias Moskowitz’s Scorecasting. The tome makes shocking claims, including the nonexistence of momentum and home-crowd energy boosts.

Count Vandersloot as a nonbeliever!

The point guard frequently requests home noise in tense home games and refused to let the Sun scare her. Connecticut had too long of a layoff before the semifinal clash. Parker led Chicago to a 2-1 lead before routing the dispirited Sun in Chicago to close the series.

It would have been poetic justice to meet the Aces. But Diana Taurasi and her never-an-underdog Phoenix Mercury provided a stiffer challenge still.

Meant. To. Be.

After splitting two games in Phoenix, the Sky routed Phoenix 86-50 in match three, the biggest blowout in Finals history. If the Sky won again, Chicago would earn its first WNBA championship. Lose, and – goodness forbid – the series returned to Phoenix.

But a raucous sellout atmosphere fed Vandersloot energy, contrary to Wertheim’s and Moskowitz’s claims. Chicago rallied from 14 down to take a 76-72 lead with 45.8 seconds left. Kahleah Copper, soon to be MVP, fouled Taurasi on a three, but Stefanie Dolson grabbed the most critical board in Sky history on the third shot. Then, Vandersloot (to Sky fans, just Slooty) hit an insanely difficult floater to increase the lead to four.

After two free throws and 0 Phoenix points, the score went final. The Vanderquigs had won their first title with the Sky.

But perhaps not the last.

With Dolson and Diamond DeShields departing, Chicago will have a new look this season.

However, the franchise that wisely drafted Vandersloot in 2011 and picked her future wife off a one-year sabbatical two years later wants another championship. Despite conflicting media reports and fan angst, the Vanderquigs return to their adopted town.

With Parker and Copper beside them and a hoops-zany town behind them, the Vanderquigs have another goal.

A second WNBA title.

About Jeffrey Newholm

"Jammin Jeff" Newholm had been a basketball fanatic since his high school days, and remained a casual fan as a student in Whitewater. Wishing to check in as an active participant, he also completed a writing certificate program at UWM. He loves seeing Bucks games more than any other activity in hometown Milwaukee and especially screaming really really loudly to get someone to miss a free throw. Twitter: @JeffreyNewholm

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