Most high school basketball players’ ultimate dream is winning a state title.
Kauai Bradley lived hers — and more — when Marian Catholic defeated Rolling Meadows 48-47 in the 2012-13 Class 4A championship game at Illinois State University.
Bradley was the ultimate hero, grabbing the rebound of a teammate’s missed shot and putting it back in with less than one second remaining.
It put a magical cap on a solid sophomore season in which Bradley, a 6-foot guard/forward, averaged 6.7 points and 6.8 rebounds per game.
“It makes you happy to always have that, I guess, moment that you can always look back on and smile about,” the 16-year-old New Lenox resident said. “It was a good experience.”
Now she’s a defending champion, and one of the leaders on a team that has some new faces in the lineup and a new coach on the bench (Dan Murray).
“I would say it’s going smoothly,” Bradley said. “There are some differences, but we’re adapting to each other.”
Marian Catholic entered the week at 6-2. In its last game on Saturday at the Young ChiTown Showdown, Bradley scored 11 points against Fremd.
“Kauai is a very hardworking dedicated student/athlete,” Murray said. “What she does on the floor, she brings that same work ethic to the classroom. She is a very good-natured mature young lady and has been a joy to coach.”
Basketball is now No. 1 with Bradley, but it wasn’t her first sports passion. She started out at St. Jude’s grammar school in Frankfort as a volleyball player and cheerleader.
“Then when I was in fifth grade I saw a flyer at school that was inviting people to join basketball,” she said.
Bradley took the flyer home to her parents. Her father, Andre Bradley, played high school basketball at Proviso East. Her mother, Stella, played at Young. Both would be brought on as coaches at St. Jude, while Kauai played up on the sixth-grade team.
That season, the sixth-grade team was 2-12, but as a sixth-grader on the seventh-grade team Bradley helped lead it to a 10-2 record and a conference title.
At Marian Catholic, she spent her freshman season battling two anterior cruciate ligament injuries. But as a sophomore she got off to a quick start and was a mainstay in the lineup throughout the Spartans’ champion season.
Her favorite part of the game?
“Defense,” Bradley said. “I like it all, but I really like playing defense.”
Her goals in life?
“I want to be a pediatrician,” she said. “I’ve always liked little kids and I’ve always wanted to be a doctor.”
“Nothing has really changed,” she said. “We want to win a state title. I think we have the team to do that. I’m excited.”