In the game of basketball, a shot made from beyond halfcourt is rare.
One player hitting two such shots in two weeks? Around here they now call that a Bethany Bulwa.
The North Shore Country Day senior pulled off the improbable feat this season, sinking a halfcourt shot on Jan. 27 and draining a nearly full-court heave on Feb. 9 — both victories for the Raiders.
And thanks to modern technology, both magical moments were caught on video.
“I’ve watched (the videos) quite a few times now and each time I am equally surprised,” Bulwa said. “I know I’ve already lived through those moments and the shots went in, but it still kind of surprises me. And it’s just fun to watch. It’s definitely like a once-in-a-lifetime thing and I’m just watching them in shock and awe.”
Bulwa, of Evanston, is North Shore Country Day’s leading scorer at 17.6 points per game. Her coach Bruce Blair said she is also “outstanding” all over the floor, from passing and rebounding to ball-handling and defending.
Growing up playing the sport with her two older brothers, Adam and Christopher, Bulwa developed plenty of skills early on, including chucking a basketball long distances.
She would practice halfcourt shots with her brothers and parents during trips to the gym. It also became a fun pastime after practices.
While honing her game, Bulwa — who will play at Oberlin College next season — learned to reliably use both her left and right hands on the court. The skill can be seen in her two buzzer-beating shots, the first of which releases from her left hand and the second of which is tossed like a baseball from her right.
“She’s got an incredible skill set,” Blair said. “First off, she can shoot with both hands. For her to be able to throw the ball that far with that kind of speed, that’s a pretty long heave for any athlete of any gender or any age. So I can’t tell you it was a total surprise.”
The Raiders boast a 17-8 record (as of Wednesday, Feb. 15), good enough to earn a No. 3 seed (of 12) in a IHSA Class 1A Fenger Sub-Sectional. They opened the postseason with a 54-21 victory over Christian Heritage Academy on Feb. 14.
Much of the success can be credited to Bulwa, who at 5 feet 10 inches defends in the front court but on offense, she is the team’s top playmaker and even acts as point guard in transition.
“I like to create plays, drive in and kick it to any of my teammates who are open so they can hit a shot,” Bulwa said. “I also like to push the ball on fastbreaks. I kind of like to do it all. I like to shoot and create my own shots, too.”
Bulwa said the Raiders are ready for a regional championship bout Thursday, Feb. 16, with rival Ida Crown (16-3), the sub-sectional’s second seed that has bested North Shore Country Day earlier this season (55-43 on Jan. 26).
Blair said the Raiders are playing well of late, gelling after starting the season with lots of new talent.
“It takes a little time to get everyone to blend. It’s starting to happen right now,” he said.
And if they get into any trouble, the Raiders have their long-distance secret weapon.
“We should have Bethany do that more often,” Blair joked. “Our shooting percentage from 72 feet is better than it is from 21.”
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