LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - For the first time since 1995, Central is headed to State. 1995 doesn't seem that long ago, until you hear Red Raiders girls basketball players say they weren't born until 1996.
Head Coach Nahmie George graduated from Central that year, so he remembers 1995 like it was yesterday.
"I was sitting in the student section, probably in the front row," George said. "I was a big girls basketball fan and those teams were so good."
1995 was the second of back-to-back state runner-up finishes for the Red Raiders, who were led by Kelley Paulus. She went on to play at Wisconsin and is still 17th on the Badgers' all-time scoring list.
"I graduated with her, so I was friends with her as well. Wow, was she a phenomenal athlete and the thing I think I remember the most is probably, what a lot of people didn't realize, was how much work she put in," George said. "I remember coming in to stop at my locker over Christmas break, over Thanksgiving and Kelly was in shooting baskets. Just constantly in the gym. You couldn't get her out of here."
Now, Nahmie sees some of Kelley in his own team.
"I see the work ethic. These girls work their tails off."
"We're all in here working our hardest everyday at practice, and yeah, I think a lot of people have that really hard work ethic," senior Brooke Baldwin said.
"I really appreciate that in our team, because we have that love for the sport," said senior Katlyn Roesch.
All traits Kelley had, even though they weren't around to see her play.
The Red Raiders face DeForest Friday around 3:15 p.m. at the Resch Center.
News 8 will have complete coverage of the game.