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Chicago, 02/13/13 New Trier's Marisa Fear takes the shot during their regional game against Lane Tech at Mather High School Feburary 13, 2013. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun-Times Media
Part reminder and part inspiration, New Trier coach Teri Rodgers brought an old basketball net from school to last week’s Class 4A regional final at Mather.
Because none of this season’s players were even in high school the last time the Trevians captured a regional championship, Rodgers wanted to show them one of the rewards that come with such a title.
Rodgers said New Trier baseball coach Mike Napoleon, who has captured two state championships at the school since 2000, put the idea in her head.
“It’s all about visualization, being positive and thinking about the outcome you want,” Rodgers said.
Senior guard Carrie Rodman said the players weren’t aware of Rodgers’ pre-game plan in the locker room.
“She did surprise us, but we thought something motivational was coming,” Rodman said.
Added senior forward Mary Lewis: “It showed us what we were working toward. The net was a physical representation of what would happen if we won.”
Perhaps pushed along by the possible prize, New Trier, the No. 5 seed at the Loyola Sectional, beat fourth-seeded Loyola 42-33 to capture the program’s first regional championship since 2009. It also was the second time the Trevians beat the Ramblers this season.
New Trier turned a 17-15 halftime lead into a 34-23 advantage by the end of the third quarter behind junior guard Megan Neuhaus and Rodman. Neuhaus scored all seven of her points in the final two quarters. Freshman center Jeannie Boehm led the Trevians with 12 points.
“Ever since the beginning of the season, I knew we had potential,” said New Trier junior guard Isabella Bosco, whose team entered this week 16-14. “We were so ready and pumped for the playoffs. I think people underestimated us.”
New Trier, with only four seniors on the roster, lost five in a row midway through the season and entered the state tournament at 14-14.
“We had been struggling around Christmas break, and it would have been easy to go a different way,” Rodgers said. “We did a good job of keeping it together instead of pulling apart.
“[The regional title] was a testament to our growth, and it was very rewarding.”
Although New Trier didn’t cut down the net that night at Mather, Rodgers passed the title token around the following day while the team was watching film, allowing each player to snip off a strand.
“That was fun,” Rodgers said. “Now they will have that for the rest of their lives.”