THE QUINCY Notre Dame girls basketball program already was a budding dynasty when Jordan Frericks, Kassidy Gengenbacher and the rest of this year's senior class enrolled in the fall of 2009.
The Lady Raiders went 60-3 in the two seasons before their arrival and finished fourth in the Class 3A state tournament in 2008. Few thought that run of success, especially the won-lost record, could be improved upon.
As the last four seasons played out, however, it did get better. Much better. In fact, QND's success is unmatched.
In Quincy's long history of athletic success -- the two high schools have combined to win 25 state championships in various sports since 1934 -- no program had ever played for a state championship four years in a row until the QND girls did.
The three consecutive state titles won by the Lady Raiders, including Saturday's Class 3A victory over Vernon Hills, are matched only by the Quincy High School girls golf program, which won three straight single-class championships from 1976-78.
And the cumulative record QND compiled the past four seasons is comparable only to that of the QHS boys basketball program from 1978-82. The Blue Devils went 123-5 with a mythical national championship in 1981, the Lady Raiders 124-5.
Such similar numbers and so many decisive victories by each inevitably led to comparisons between those two historic eras. The only fair comparison is this: QND played with the same class and respect for the game as QHS did 30 years ago.
On the way to the state title in 2012, the Lady Raiders were taken to task by some media members from around the state for not playing a higher level of competition. Although QND was a Class 2A school then and all classifications are based on enrollment, the opinion was the Lady Raiders were so good that they should have petitioned to play in a higher classification to challenge themselves.
The Lady Raiders didn't respond. Instead, they simply continued to play, and play well. Despite moving up a class this season, they beat every team on their schedule -- including larger classification teams in both Illinois and Missouri -- to finish with a 30-0 record.
The Lady Raiders did that without being smug or showing an air of arrogance. Their humility was as endearing as their ability.
In the end, their talent made them champions on the court.
Their character will make them winners in life.