With the season on the line, Edwardsville senior Makenzie Silvey responded with the biggest 3-point basket of her career Thursday to keep the Tigers state championship dream alive.
Silvey made a 3-point point jumper with 1:56 remaining to give Edwardsville the lead for good as the Tigers defeated Rock Island 48-46 win in the title game of the Class 4A Normal Community Sectional.
Ranked second in the Class 4A state poll, Rock Island, which trailed by as many as 13 points in the first half, took a 39-38 lead with just more than two minutes left on a 3-point basket by sophomore all-state guard Breanna Beal.
But on the Tigers’ next possession, Silvey found herself open on the left side and hit the 3-point jumper
“The defense backed off, and I was open. I just hoped it would go in,” Silvey said.
Silvey wasn’t done. The Southern Illinois University Carbondale recruit then combined with Rachel Pranger to make seven free throws in the closing 90 seconds as the undefeated Tigers (30-0) captured their fourth straight sectional title.
“That’s a shot I’ll have Makenzie or Rachel (Pranger) shoot anytime,” an emotional Edwardsville coach Lori Blade said. “The kids showed a lot of character and heart all night long. That’s a great team (Rock Island), and we knew they would make a run at us. They did, and we responded. I couldn’t be more proud.”
The win lifts Edwardsville into the Illinois Wesleyan Super-Sectional at 7 p.m. Monday at the Sherk Center in Normal. The Tigers will take on two-time defending state champion Benet Academy.
Benet Academy, which had defeated Edwardsville in the super-sectional the past two years, defeated Plainfield East 59-48 at the East Aurora Sectional on Thursday.
Edwardsville started fast against the Rocks (31-2), which were looking for revenge after losing to Edwardsville in each of the past two sectional tournaments.
With Silvey scoring six of her 18 points and Kate Martin and Criste’on Waters scoring four points each, the Tigers led 18-10 after one quarter. That lead grew to 26-13 on a basket by junior Myria Noodel-Haywood with 3:40 left in the second quarter.
Edwardsville led 26-17 at halftime before the Rocks found their way in the third quarter.
Beal scored four points, and junior guard Chrislyn Carr hit a 3-point jumper as the Rocks closed the gap.
Beal picked up her fourth foul late in the quarter, and Haywood and freshman Quierra Love hit shots late in the period as the Tigers took a 32-29 lead heading into the final quarter.
Rock Island coach Thad Hoover said the Rocks played the way they have all year after a rough start.
“There was no magic talk given at halftime. We just needed to settle down, especially on the defensive end of the court,” Hoover said. “I thought we played much better in the second half. Give Edwardsville credit. That’s a great team, and we gave it a run in the second half. I guess you could say we just ran out of time.”
Beal scored four points early in the fourth quarter. But Edwardsville, getting four free throws from Martin, managed to stay in front until Beal gave her team a lead that lasted for less than 20 seconds.
Carr had 22 points, and Beal added 20 for Rock Island.
Martin chipped in with eight points for Edwardsville, while Pranger and Waters added seven each.