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2021 WNBA Finals: From Naperville and Joliet, Parker and Quigley play in front of familiar fans

The two best high school players in the Chicago area in 2004, Candace Parker and Allie Quigley, are starring for the Chicago Sky in the 2021 WNBA Finals.

WNBA: SEP 28 Semifinals - Chicago Sky at Connecticut Sun
Candace Parker (left) and Allie Quigley (right) are up 1-0 in the WNBA Finals.
Photo by M. Anthony Nesmith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Candace Parker came to Chicago because it is her hometown and because the Sky had the pieces to become a championship contender. As an added bonus, she knew she would be playing with another Chicagoan, one who rose to high school basketball prominence in the area at the same time as her: 2001 to 2004.

That would be Allie Quigley, who stayed in Chicago for college and has now played nine seasons in the city as a pro.

Parker was the best high school player in the country at the time, winning national Gatorade Player of the Year in 2003 and 2004. She would go on to play at the greatest women’s basketball program at the time in Tennessee, win two national championships and be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 WNBA Draft.

Quigley was the second-best player in the Chicago area at the time — from the state of Illinois, only she and Parker played in the 2004 WBCA All-America game. She also joined Parker on The Chicago Tribune’s 2003-04 All-State Girls Basketball team.

Verizon WNBA All-Star Game 2018
The connection between Candace Parker and Allie Quigley goes back to high school and followed them to the 2018 WNBA All-Star Game.
Photo by Jordan Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images

Parker played at Naperville Central, a little over an hour west of where the Sky’s current home stadium, Wintrust Arena, now stands. Alan Sutton of the Chicago Tribune wrote this story on her after she won Ms. Basketball of Illinois for the second time in a row as a junior in 2003. It documents the serious interest that Parker garnered from professional teams in France and Israel as a high school student and a sophomore year April Fool’s joke announcement that she was going to the WNBA that people actually fell for. Parker won two state championships in high school and led Naperville to a 35-0 record as a junior.

Quigley may not have been getting pro offers, but she was famous too, at least in her hometown of Joliet. She played at Joliet Catholic, also a little over an hour away from Wintrust and a little over half an hour south of Naperville. She averaged 26 points and 10 rebounds per game in high school and shot 84 percent from the charity stripe. What added to her fame in the town was a family full of Joliet athletes, which Sarah Spain wrote about for espnW in 2013 when Quigley had just joined the Sky.

Quigley’s mother, Christine, played basketball at the University of St. Francis in Joliet, is a member of the school’s athletic Hall of Fame and had her jersey retired in 1983. That after playing basketball, tennis, softball and volleyball at Joliet Central High School. Quigley also played volleyball and softball in high school. She was a champion and an All-State selection in volleyball and posted a strikeout-less season in which she batted .438 as a softball junior.

Quigley’s father, Pat, who passed away when Quigley was in first grade, played basketball and tennis at St. Francis, where the basketball court is named after him. He also coached multiple sports at a high school in New Lenox, Ill.

Then there’s Quigley’s siblings. Her older bother Ryan was a baseball star at Joliet Catholic and went on to play independent and minor league baseball from 2007 to 2015. Her youngest sibling, Jake, played tennis at St. Francis. Her younger sister, Sam, most closely followed her own journey, playing basketball with her at DePaul, where she accumulated 484 assists — good for sixth in Blue Demon history. Sam became the head women’s basketball coach at St. Francis at just 24 years of age and is now the head coach at Division I Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

Quigley’s own exploits at DePaul are well-documented. She scored 2,078 career points, adding to her legacy in the city of Chicago, and was drafted No. 22 overall by the Seattle Storm in the same draft as Parker.

Quigley would bounce around the league before landing in Chicago and becoming a first-time All-Star post-30. She has now been to three All-Star games and has won three 3-point shooting contests. Parker, on the other hand, became a WNBA legend while playing 13 seasons with the Los Angeles Sparks, but this past offseason said she was coming home.

Probably not a lot of people knew about the connection between Parker and Quigley going back to their high school days, but more people know now because of how much Parker has talked about it since returning to Chicago. The situation is not just special for Parker and Quigley. All the players on the team and all the fans are rallying around the positive vibes surrounding the city right now.

“I met my wife here,” Sky superstar point guard Courtney Vandersloot, who is married to Quigley, said at the press conference after Chicago advanced to the Finals. “This is like a second home to me for sure. I know nothing other than Chicago Sky. It’s special to play for this city.”