Jack Bradbury

Lyons Township High School senior boys water polo all-stater Jack Bradbury loves watching movies. Among his favorites is the 1966 Western classic “The Good, the Bad and The Ugly,” starring Clint Eastwood and Eli Wallach.

“My uncle showed me it for the first time,” Bradbury said. “It’s kind of funny, but it’s really cool. I always liked cowboys growing up.”

For the Lions, it’s mostly been great this season, and now it’s time for their showdown.

The LTHS boys (28-2) return to the IHSA state quarterfinals and meet Naperville North at 8:15 p.m. on May 19 at Stevenson High School.

The LTHS girls (29-2-1) also return to the state quarterfinals, playing Hersey at 7 p.m. on May 20.

Both tournaments conclude May 21.

In the LTHS Sectional finals on May 14, the boys defeated St. Rita 12-3 and the girls topped Mother McAuley for the third time this season, 20-7.

In 2021, the girls lost to eventual state champion Naperville North 13-6 in the quarterfinals. The boys finished second, losing to Stevenson 15-8 for the title.

“I think that’s always going to be in our minds when we’re playing,” LTHS senior Jimmy Bolan said. “That was a tough loss and we want to get back to that spot and have a different outcome.”

Bradbury leads the Lions with 110 goals and has 34 assists. Other starters Saturday were seniors A.J. Vitek (70 goals), Bolan (63 goals, 39 assists) and Matt Jablonski (30 goals, 28 assists), junior Sean Gripp (19 goals, 30 assists) and sophomores Brendan Whelton (19 assists) and goalie Charlie Vlk (310 saves).

“They’re playing very well. They’re very connected offensively and defensively, helping each other, setting each other up,” LTHS coach Doug Eichstaedt said.

“[Bradbury is] the creator. He plays multiple positions but wherever he is, defensively he can shut players down and offensively he creates for himself or his teammates. That’s what separates him from, I’d say, pretty much anybody in the state.”

Bradbury’s older cousins played water polo at Andrew High School and encouraged him to start around age 10 at the LTHS pool. He gained Olympic Development Program experience in eighth grade and by freshman year wanted to play in college.

Bradbury will continue at California Lutheran after making contact through 2016 LTHS graduate George Lundgren, who played there and coached Bradbury and Bolan in youth water polo. Bradbury will major in computer science with hopes to open his own business as a software engineer.

Evie Reinisch

“I just really like how physical [water polo] is. It’s just fun to play as a team,” Bradbury said. “You’re pretty much always being grabbed by someone. People try to pull you under and you’ve just got to stay up.” 

LTHS girls starters on May 14 were seniors Novalee Roberto (94 goals, 98 assists, 76 steals) and Sofia Hannon (16 goals), juniors Emilia Mladjan (138 goals, 42 assists, 92 steals), Ava Wright (34 goals, 36 assists), Evie Reinisch (23 goals) and goalie Allison Schroeder (272 saves, 40 steals) and freshman Maya Mladjan (107 goals, 57 assists, 78 steals).

“Last year, we felt like we had just landed in the first round at state. This year, it feels like we have been working towards the first-round spot every day,” Reinisch responded. “It’s no accident that we are here. We have one thing on our minds and that’s to win state.”