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Much-Improved Allie Quigley Shines On All-Star Saturday

SEATTLE – One of the numerous first-time All-Stars in the Eastern Conference, Allie Quigley never could have envisioned what happened on Saturday.

In front of a national TV audience and more than 15,000 fans at KeyArena in Seattle – the city she was originally drafted to – Quigley stole the show as part of the thrilling return of the Three-Point Contest. The Chicago Sky guard beat out Sue Bird, Maya Moore and Jasmine Thomas in the opening round, then defeated Sugar Rodgers in the final to take home the trophy.

Quigley also had a solid showing during her 19 minutes in the actual All-Star Game, nailing 4-of-9 shots from three-point range to finish with 14 points off the bench.

Observing Quigley, it seemed like she had a smile on her face the entire afternoon. A dozen family members were in attendance to support the first-time All-Star, and Sky teammate Courtney Vandersloot wore her jersey to the game. It was a memorable day for a player that makes her All-Star debut in her ninth WNBA season at age 31, a veteran that was entirely out of the league just five years ago.

“Thinking back, I never dreamed that this would happen,” Quigley told at practice on Friday. “So it just makes you think about the beginning, what used to be and what is now. I’m very blessed to be able to be here.”

Quigley went first in the Three-Point Contest on Saturday, setting the tone with a 20-point round. Thomas, Moore and Bird struggled, but Rodgers got the crowd going by sinking her first eight attempts and finishing with 22 points.

The first one up again in the final round, Quigley knew Rodgers could repeat that performance.

“I was hoping that she got the one out of the way,” she joked afterward. “Luckily that happened. I was just happy that I took care of my round.”

Rodgers stayed hot with 19 points in the final, but Quigley had already set the tone once again with the best performance of the contest. She made a ridiculous 19 of 25 attempts – including all five on the second rack – to finish with 27 points. That’s all that matters, but Quigley also did score more total points (47) than Rodgers (41).

Quigley admitted she was nervous, but her peers knew the veteran guard was more than capable of winning. She is, after all, among the league leaders with 47 triples made this season and shooting 44 percent from downtown. Fellow competitor Bird said Quigley actually was her pick to win. Sky center and All-Star Stefanie Dolson, who has been her teammate for merely a few months, notes the growth in Quigley’s game.

“I’ve seen it, even from the beginning of the season, she’s gotten better,” Dolson said. “She’s playing a lot of minutes, she’s getting good shots, and you can just tell that when she comes out on the floor and shoots, it’s money every time. We have a lot of confidence in her, and she has a lot of confidence in herself. We just want her to keep shooting.”

This is Quigley’s first year as a starter in the WNBA, and she’s enjoying by far the best season of her career. The path she took to get to this point made All-Star weekend even sweeter.

Seattle drafted Quigley late in the second round in 2008, then waived her shortly after. She found a way to make Phoenix’s roster that same year, but Quigley never played more than 10 minutes per game in her first six WNBA seasons. The year before she joined Chicago – her hometown squad – no WNBA team had room for Quigley on its roster.

Now, after a pair of Sixth Woman of the Year awards, she is the Sky’s leading scorer and an All-Star.

“Her game evolved as she played overseas, and she learned how to be the focal point and take on that responsibility,” Bird said of Quigley. “She made her career as a sixth woman, and she’s slowly made that transformation to a go-to player.”

“You could tell early on that she had something special about the way she could score the basketball,” Diana Taurasi added. “She filled out a little bit physically, and now you can tell she’s such a confident basketball player. She knows what she does really well, and she’s one of the best in the world at pull-up threes. The Three-Point Contest she showed what kind of touch she has.”

Quigley’s 44 percent shooting from three-point range is the highest of her career, and her 51 percent overall shooting also ranks as a personal best. In an increased role, she’s also putting up career-best numbers in assists, rebounding and steals.

Nearly a decade after getting drafted in the second round, Quigley is living out her wildest dreams.

“I have stayed ready for everything,” she said. “I’ve stayed ready to shoot and be aggressive. I’m not letting one miss bother me. I’m staying in the moment and being ready.”

On Saturday, she took full advantage of that moment.