2023-24 NewsTribune Girls Basketball Player of the Year

Ali Bosnich hopes to play in college after leading St. Bede to state tournament

St. Bede's Ali Bosnich is the 2023-2024 girls basketball player of the year on Monday, March 11, 2024 at Abbot Vincent Gymnasium.

Coming into her senior basketball season, St. Bede’s Ali Bosnich had decided not to pursue the sport in college.

“I went into this season giving up on my dream of playing basketball in college,” Bosnich said. “My passion for the sport wasn’t reciprocated as I hoped it would be in my past seasons. My sophomore year I didn’t play [because of injury], and my junior year we had a new coach and new program. I’ve never had an awesome experience with AAU teams. I’m huge on signs and what things and experiences mean for my life. So I took all of that and I decided over the summer that all of that was telling me that basketball wasn’t something I was supposed to be pursuing.”

Then she got a sign pointing the other direction this season.

Bosnich averaged 16.4 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game to lead the Bruins to Tri-County Conference regular season and tournament titles and a fourth-place finish in the Class 1A state tournament.

With that, individual accolades poured in.

Bosnich was voted Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Class 1A All-State second team, Illinois Media Class 1A All-State honorable mention and Tri-County County Conference Player of the Year.

For all she accomplished, Bosnich has been named the 2023-24 NewsTribune Girls Basketball Player of the Year.

Bosnich is just the third St. Bede player to earn the honor, joining Sam Galas (2008-09) and Maria Lorenzi (1993-94).

“Ali had the year we were hoping for,” St. Bede coach Stephanie Mickley said. “She had a great year last year. We worked on control this year. Getting her the looks outside as well as inside, controlling the drive. It was very evident the last two games of the state series that she stepped up and showed everybody what kind of player she is.”

And now, she’s changed her mind about playing college basketball.

“I’m coming out of the season wishing I never would have stopped pursuing colleges that were asking me to play for them,” Bosnich said. “Now I’m in a tough position having to choose school or the sport I don’t think I can give up now.”

It was very evident the last two games of the state series that she stepped up and showed everybody what kind of player she is.”

—  Stephanie Mickley, St. Bede coach

Since the Bruins’ postseason run, Bosnich has been in communication with college coaches again.

“The success, obviously,” Bosnich said about why she’s decided to pursue college basketball again. “Also my relationship with my team and my coaches. This team really helped me know the definition of what a team is supposed to be. We had leaders, but also everyone had a voice on the team. My relationship with my coaches is one I’ve never had. Coach Steph put the team in front of everything else. It was very obvious with her attitude during practice, her push for us to do our very best. She brought back a love for the sport that I came in missing. (Assistant coaches) Shannon (Leininger), Lexi (Marx) and Colby (Robbins) also helped better us.”

In Bosnich, a college coach would get a player who can score down low, step out and hit a mid-range jumper or drive to the basket.

She surpassed 1,000 career points in the supersectional in just two varsity seasons.

“She can hit those high percentage shots,” Mickley said. “We worked hard with all the posts on post moves and she was able to utilize them in games. She also stepped up and can hit that 10- of 15-footer if she’s left open. I think once we opened it up, we have a couple taller kids, so we could utilize her from the outside, too.”

Bosnich also is a dominant rebounder. She hauled in 20 rebounds in the regional semifinal to go along with 23 points, and she also had double-doubles in the supersectional (26 points, 10 rebounds), the state semifinal (11 points, 13 rebounds) and the third-place game (21 points, 11 rebounds).

St. Bede's Ali Bosnich eyes the hoop as Okawville's Kenley Hackstadt defends during the Class 1A State semifinal game on Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024 at CEFCU Arena in Normal.

“Watching basketball, any good team, you’ll see them once the shot goes up, they’re looking for the nearest opponent,” Bosnich said. “They’re putting a butt into a gut. For me, it’s always finding a body and putting myself into them.”

Being physical helps Bosnich on the boards and also is an asset on defense.

“We worked hard with her on denying the post, learning how to front if needed because the lob pass is difficult,” Mickley said. “Boxing out, getting those weakside boards.

“Her physical strength is such an asset on defense because she can handle the bigger, stronger kids. She does it well and usually stays out of foul trouble because of her strength.”

Mickley said Bosnich will be missed in the Bruins program.

“She’s going to be missed greatly, and not just on the court, but off the court for the type of person she is,” Mickley said. “She’s a great leader. Wherever her destination is, I know she’ll do great things in life.”

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