WATERLOO — For the first three quarters of the Class 3A Waterloo Sectional championship game Saturday, the Mater Dei Knights and the Massac County Patriots battled back and forth.
There were 10 lead changes, and neither team led by more than three points. It seemed the game would come down to the last shot.
But in the fourth quarter, with Massac County leading 33-31 after three quarters, Mater Dei took over.
The Knights scored the first 15 points of the quarter, and didn't allow the Patriots to score until 1:15 seconds remained in the game. The huge fourth quarter propelled Mater Dei to a 46-35 victory.
"Our fourth-quarter rallies, we kick it into gear," Mater Dei senior Emily Koelling said. "We knew we had to pick it up. The score was tied, so we knew we had to just give it our all."
With the victory, Mater Dei advances to play (Quincy) Notre Dame in the Class 3A Springfield Super-Sectional on Monday at 7:30 p.m. at University of Illinois-Springfield.
The Lady Raiders, who advanced with a 62-37 victory over Champaign Centennial in the title game of the Mount Zion Sectional, are trying for a fourth straight appearance at the state tournament. Notre Dame took second in Class 2A in 2010 before winning 2A titles in 2011 and 2012.
"For us, it's the third time in five years being in the elite eight," Kohnen said. "You can't say enough for the kids and the program."
Koelling led Mater Dei with 16 points, accounting for nine of the Knights' 16 first-half points.
"Emily can score when being fouled," Mater Dei coach Dave Kohnen said. "She did a nice job the whole night."
Both teams struggled to get their offenses going in the first half.
It was tied 5-5 at the end of the first quarter and 16-16 at halftime.
In the first half, Mater Dei shot 7-for-22 from the field, while Massac County shot 7-for-21. The offenses picked up in the third quarter, as both teams combined to double their combined first-half point total.
"They're deceiving," Kohnen said. "Their quickness to loose balls and stuff like that, they're so good at it. There was a couple series in the second half where they got three rebounds in a row just by outhustling us. And our kids were hustling, but they're quick."
Mater Dei took a 40-33 lead with 4:55 remaining in the fourth quarter. Three minutes later, with two minutes remaining in the game, Massac County began to foul.
Anna Lampe was the go-to ball handler for the Knights when the Patriots fouled.
She was fouled three times in less than a minute and converted all six free throws to all but secure the win for Mater Dei.
Lampe finished with 14 points. Junior Lindsey Perkes, who scored 16 points in a sectional semifinal victory over Columbia on Monday, came off the bench to score 10 points.
"We played really well as a team," Koelling said. "When everybody got a shot, we took it. Everybody ran the offense we needed to.
"It was hard (to score) because a lot of the time they were really packing it in. But then I kick it back out and the guards shoot their threes, and they did a good job of that."
Mater Dei shot 6-of-13 from 3-point range. Lampe, Perkes and senior Danielle Timmermann each made two 3s apiece.
"The guards are always ready to shoot," Koelling said. "We have a bunch of great shooters. It helps when you have a team that's all around."
Koelling, Lampe and Perkes combined for 40 of Mater Dei's 46 points. Timmermann chipped in the remaining six.
Massac County spread its points around. Seven different Patriots scored, but sophomore duo of Jessie Douglas and Gracyn McBride led the Patriots with 10 points each.
"They're going to be a team to reckon with the next couple years," Kohnen said. "They fought so hard. They dribble drive so hard."