On the face of it, there was no way the Saint Viator girls’ basketball team should have been competing for the sectional title earlier this month. Not with a record of 7-24 and the No. 10 seed, heading into post-season play. But the Lions surprised everyone when they went 3-1 in the IHSA playoffs and lost by only six points to the top seed, Grayslake Central.

St. Viator girls’ team after winning the regional championship — the school’s 9th

Their run included wins over the No. 5 seed, Wheaton Academy, and the No. 3 seed, Wauconda, in the regional final. Their streak continued when they held the No. 2 seed, Cary Grove, to just 1 of 22 from three-point range, cruising to a 51-39 win in the sectional semi-final.

“We ended on such a fun note,” says senior Mia Bergstrom of Mount Prospect. “The team had so much resilience all season long. We played some very tough conference and non-conference games in the regular season, so come playoff time we were super prepared. We came out with some fire in those last couple games and played the hardest we’ve ever played.”

Mia was a captain of the team and legitimate star. Consider her individual statistics: She scored 1,706 points which moved her into 2nd place among all-time leading scorers list at Saint Viator. She also holds the record for most points in a season at 722 and most 3-pointers made in a season, at 140, and was a two-time All-Conference selection and two-time Daily Herald All-Area player.

Mia Bergstrom (33) drives past a defender. (Photo by C.J. Zimmerman/St. Viator)

This fall, Mia will be playing at St. Louis University, where as a Billiken she’ll compete in the Atlantic 10 Conference, against the likes of Dayton and Loyola, to name a few.

First year Coach Kyle Braheny, credited Mia and all the seniors on the team with establishing a culture that mixed hard work at practices with a close camaraderie between one another and their coaches.

“Our senior leaders were role models every day at practice and made everyone around them better,” Coach Braheny says.

Mia credits all of her coaches, but her biggest influences, she says, were her five older siblings, who all played basketball and went on to play various sports in college. Her parents, too, played college athletics. Her mother, Lucy, played basketball and her father, Lee, played baseball, both at Carthage College in Kenosha.

Mia shoots a 3-point shot over her defenders. (Photo by C.J. Zimmerman/St. Viator)

“I pretty much played all the sports growing up, but basketball was my favorite and I stuck with it,” Mia says. “I was always practicing with my older siblings and watching what they did and mimicking it. There were always competitive one-on-one, shooting, and defensive drills that helped improve my game.”

This weekend, with the IHSA state semi-finals and championship games taking place, Mia and her Saint Viator Lions won’t be there, but they’re holding their heads high.

“This was an exciting playoff run for the whole girls’ basketball program,” Coach Braheny says. “The best part of this was that every player on the team made contributions. Although we are losing several key seniors, we had several underclassmen make major contributions throughout the season and down the stretch. It was exciting to see them grow as players throughout the season.”



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