After missing her first three shots, Joliet Catholic Academy’s Shannon Butler ended up square to the basket with the ball in her hands and not a single defensive player in sight.
As the sound of a final swish filled the steamy air inside Plainfield Central High School’s gym, Butler beamed momentarily as she sprinted over the half-court line — a highlight that lingered afterward.
Bittersweet, but good.
“I look at it as the last basket I scored in my high school career, so that’s kind of cool,” Butler said. “All four of my years at JCA, for all six of the years that I played basketball, it has been a pretty good ride.”
A closing cruise down memory lane came for Butler at the Voyager Media Prep Shootout Senior All-Star Game. The 5-foot-11 senior post player finished with 2 points, 3 rebounds and a pair of blocked shots.
Starting at forward for the South team, Butler took three shots in her first four minutes on the floor as the Bolingbrook-powered North team jumped to a 13-6 lead and never looked back in a 74-51 victory.
Wearing her white No. 20 JCA Angels uniform, Butler struck with 6:12 remaining in the first half to slice the South deficit to 29-20. Two minutes later, Butler grabbed her first rebound and was fouled shooting.
Although both free throws spun out, and after rimming a shot to begin the second half, Butler recovered with a couple of rebounds and later contributed defensively by rejecting back-to-back North shots.
“I think she had a lot of fun,” JCA coach Ed Schodrof said. “She looked loose out there, she looked comfortable, and the competition was very good. I think it was a good game and she did fine, just fine.”
“I was definitely glad that the last time I put on a JCA uniform, I did it with excitement,” Butler said. “I came out and I played inspired, I had no worries, and I went out there to play hard and have fun.”
The chance to play alongside grade school teammate Tiffany Wayne of Plainfield North also pleased Butler, who was cheered on by parents Thomas and Margaret, brother J.B. (an offensive tackle for JCA’s Class 5A state football runnersup as a sophomore) and three members of the Angels’ coaching staff.
“It was a good feeling to play with Tiffany, my best friend since sixth grade,” Butler said. “That was really nice. We had fun playing basketball together back in seventh and eighth grade, so it was our reunion.”
In the future, Schodrof hopes Butler will return to JCA to witness the fruits of her labor. Butler is planning on majoring in marketing at Manhattan College in New York City and possibly walking on.
“We wish her well,” said Schodrof, who completed his fourth year at JCA. “As our program continues to improve, Shannon is someone we will remember as one of the cornerstone, foundation players. When we look back on what was the turning point, she will be a big part of that in our memory banks.”
NOTES: Butler’s teammate on the South team, Plainfield Central guard Brigid Hanley, was honored with the Jeremy Izzo Character Award. Izzo, the second-year boys basketball coach at JCA, died suddenly in October of 2010. Former Hilltopper guard Breshion Tucker, who now plays for Wayne State, was last year’s inaugural winner of the award ... Samantha Quigley, who starred as a point guard at DePaul and played volleyball, basketball and softball at JCA, scouted the game as an assistant coach for the University of St. Francis. Quigley was the starting setter on the Angels’ 2003 Class AA volleyball state champions … Maine East’s Monay Crawford was named the MVP of the girls game, scoring 8 points. JCA’s Megan Novak, currently playing for Benedictine, was the MVP of last year’s All-Star Game.