The Chicago Sky emerge victorious in the 2021 WNBA Finals

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Angelina Galanis, Contributing Writer

 

This year’s WNBA finals was a grueling battle as the Chicago Sky went head to head with the Phoenix Mercury.  This season the Sky had a record of 16 wins and 16 losses, an even split, while the Mercury were 19 wins and 13 losses. 

While it may seem particularly odd that two teams with records like this could make it into the finals, their playoff performances exceeded expectations, allowing the underdogs to secure spots for a chance to play in the title round.  Both teams played extraordinarily well, defeating those who stood in their way to make it to the top.  

In contrast to previous years’ attendance, the 2021 finals had an oddly high spectator count.  13,685 fans flocked to the Footprint Center just for Game 2.  Even huge celebrities, such as Devin Booker and Chris Paul of the Phoenix Suns, came to watch as their neighboring women’s teams battled on the court.  As the WNBA gains more and more national attention, people are starting to catch on to the excitement of the league.

“More people should really follow the WNBA because the women are just as entertaining as the men.  While physicality and brute athleticism play huge roles in the playstyle of the NBA, the WNBA focuses much more on the fundamentals and ball movement,” said junior Carly Fanous.  

In Game 1, both teams came out ready to fight.  After the first quarter, the Mercury led 20-25 with Diana Taurasi putting up a total of three three-pointers.  In the second quarter, Chicago caught up, scoring 26 points opposed to a mere 10 scored by Phoenix.  By quarter four Chicago pulled away and won by 14 points, with a final score of 91-77.  

The Phoenix Mercury flipped the script for a crucial Game 2 win, tying the series and giving Chicago a run for its money.  All four quarters were a race back and forth.  Courtney Vandersloot had 20 points alone, but it still was not enough for the Sky.  The game was tied at the end of regulation, sending it into overtime.  That is where Phoenix secured the 91-86 win, using a classic 4-out offense and finding the centers at easy-access moments.  

“In my opinion, Kahleah Copper was the star of the first game, putting up an astounding 10 rebounds and 21 points, the most on her team in both sections.  Her stellar performance really made the difference for her team,” said junior Rhianna Tilsley.

Even though both teams seemed well-matched in the first two games, the second two took a sharp turn in favor of the Sky.  By implementing better on-court communication and team connection, Chicago was able to gain an edge over Phoenix.  

In the third game, Phoenix fought hard, but the Sky won every single quarter, resulting in a blowout 36-point win with Chicago in a 2-1 series lead.  

However, the fourth and final game was not as easy for the Sky.  Candace Parker of the Sky and Brittney Griner of the Mercury each balled out, and despite a 28 point performance from Griner, the Mercury fell short by a score of 74-80.  As hard as Phoenix fought, they could not come out of the Wintrust Arena with even a single win.  In the end, the Chicago Sky were crowned as the 2021 WNBA Finals champs.

“As much as I wanted Phoenix to win, Chicago fought really hard and ended up defeating them because of their high basketball IQ,” said junior James Chondrogiannis.

For the first time since the creation of the WNBA, the Chicago Sky have won a title.  When asked how she felt about winning, Candace Parker just broke down in tears for her major accomplishment.  Both she and her fellow Sky teammates celebrated this great success with trophies, confetti, and of course, champagne.  Girls of all ages among the 10,000 people in the stadium, and thousands watching from home were ecstatic to see their female role models do what they do best: win.