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CHICAGO (WLS) — In their second-ever WNBA finals, the Chicago Sky are tied 1-1 in their series against the Phoenix Mercury.

While they lost Wednesday night’s game in overtime, fans hope the tide will turn as the team returns to Chicago for the next two games. Tickets are already sold out. Among those who will be watching is Doug Bruno, head coach of DePaul University’s women’s basketball team. He coached three-time WNBA All-Star Allie Quigley when she was in college.

“Allie Quigley is Chicago. She’s from Joliet. But she represents what Chicago is all about: The grit, the toughness, the never-give-up attitude,” Bruno said. “Allie was cut four or five times before she finally stuck in the WNBA and she never gave up.”

Bruno also remembers Naperville native Candace Parker, who did not attend DePaul, though the school tried to recruit her.

“We recruited Candace hard,” Bruno said. “Candace is one of the three or four players in the Chicago area that we offered a scholarship to in seventh grade. That’s how special Candace was.”

Interest in the WNBA has increased greatly over the years, and with it, the youth side of the sport has grown. Chicago’s Flow Basketball Academy runs ten girls’ teams from 5th grade through high school with the intent of getting participants into college programs.

Flow Basketball Academy co-owner Margaret Stender said having the Sky to look up to is impactful.

“It’s really wonderful for our girls to be able to go into the arena and see that kind of talent up close and personally and to kind of dream of what can happen,” Stender said. “It’s a really positive loop.”

Stender was also the Sky’s founding president and CEO. She’ll be among those in the stands for the next two games.

“Being in the Wintrust Arena these days, for those of us who started this, 15, 16 years ago, it’s really emotional,” Stender said.

Game 3 in the best-of-five series is scheduled for Friday at 8p.m.

Copyright © 2021 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.

Source: ABC7

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