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Sports

Goss: Allie Quigley's WNBA All-Star selection a fitting honor

Chicago Sky guard and JCA graduate Allie Quigley (right) conducted a girls basketball clinic last September at Joliet Central with her sister, Samantha Quigley Smith. Allie is averaging 16.9 points per game this season with the Sky and was named Tuesday night as a reserve on the East team for Saturday's WNBA All-Star game. | Larry W. Kane for Shaw Media
Chicago Sky guard and JCA graduate Allie Quigley (right) conducted a girls basketball clinic last September at Joliet Central with her sister, Samantha Quigley Smith. Allie is averaging 16.9 points per game this season with the Sky and was named Tuesday night as a reserve on the East team for Saturday's WNBA All-Star game. | Larry W. Kane for Shaw Media

Allie Quigley always has been a team-first basketball player.

The Joliet Catholic Academy graduate and Chicago Sky guard does not feel comfortable discussing her personal accomplishments. She talks team first. What matters is doing everything she can to help her team win.

However, being named Tuesday night to the East roster for Saturday’s WNBA All-Star game, that’s extra cool.

“This is exciting. I wasn’t expecting this at all at the start of the season,” Quigley said during our Wednesday phone conversation. “As it got closer, people started talking to me that maybe I had a chance. But I tried not to think about it. I just wanted to help our team win games.”

Quigley, who turned 31 June 20, is in her fifth season with the Sky and her ninth WNBA season. She also has played professionally overseas – and been very successful at it – through those same years.

Yet for a player to make her first WNBA All-Star team at 31, in her ninth season, is not something that happens often.

“It definitely feels good after all the stuff I went through to get here, the entire journey,” she said.

Quigley, who starred for coach Doug Bruno at DePaul after being all-everything at JCA, was named the WNBA’s Sixth Woman of the Year in 2014 and 2015. She averaged 3.8 points in 9.4 minutes with the Sky in 2013, 11.2 in 24.8 in 2014, 11.1 in 22.5 in 2015, 9.5 in 17.8 in 2016 and is averaging 16.9 points in 32.4 minutes this season, her first as a full-time starter.

When the Sky traded Elena Delle Donne after last season, others on the roster had to pick up the slack, especially on the offensive end. Quigley has done her share and then some, scoring more than five points a game above her previous best average.

She is shooting a career-best .517 from the field, a career-best .444 (44 for 99) from 3-point range and is knocking down free throws at her usual 87 percent clip. She ranks among the Eastern Conference leaders in scoring average and 3-point shooting.

The All-Star game, which will be played in Seattle, will be televised live on ABC-TV at 2:30 p.m. Saturday. Quigley also will participate in the 3-point contest at halftime.

“All the All-Star activities will be a fun experience,” she said. “I’ve seen the games in the past. Some were pretty competitive, others were not. They were more for fun. We’ll see how this one goes.”

Quigley was informed she is the second Joliet basketball player selected for the All-Star game in the highest-level professional league. The first? George Mikan.

“Wow, that’s pretty good company to be in,” she said.

The announcement Tuesday night that Quigley is an All-Star was part of a huge night, as she also scored 25 points to lead the visiting Sky to a 94-83 victory over the Seattle Storm. She made 6 of 10 shots from 3-point range and shot 9 for 16 in all. The six threes tied a career high.

If you have an opportunity Saturday afternoon to watch Quigley play with and against the best in the world, take advantage of it. She belongs on the All-Star stage.

Her stepdad, Don Strle, said, “The smartest thing Allie ever did is not listen to me. When she was trying to get established in the WNBA, moving to different teams, I told her she should go ahead and make some money playing overseas and forget the WNBA.

“She just looked at me and said, ‘I want to play with the best.’ ”

Quigley said her mom, Chris, and stepdad will be in Seattle for the All-Star game. Brother Jake will be up from the San Francisco area, where he is a tennis instructor, and sister Samantha Quigley Smith, the women’s basketball coach at Lewis, is flying out. In addition, “My aunt who lives in the Seattle area will be driving to the game,” Quigley said.

As much fun as the All-Star experience, playing with the best, will be, Quigley has something else on her mind. The Sky, after a rough start to the season, has won four of its last five – and probably should have won all five – to improve to 7-13.

“We definitely started pretty slow,” she said. “We had a new coach and new teammates. It took a while, but we are starting to find the chemistry now.”

She has been nothing short of an All-Star contributor to that chemistry.

• Dick Goss can be reached at dgoss@shawmedia.com.

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