Edwardsville seniors lead Tigers to state
Each of Benet Academy’s two consecutive 4A girls state basketball championships have gone through the Edwardsville Tigers at the Bloomington Super-Sectional.
Not this year.
Edwardsville defeated the Redwings 59-38 at Illinois Wesleyan University on Monday to assume a spot in the Illinois Final Four.
The Tigers smothered the two-time defending champion with pressure defense and a dominating presence under the boards in the same green and gray gym where they saw their last three seasons come to an end.
“Finally,” said head coach Lori Blade. “It’s an awesome accomplishment to even get here and you know you’re going to see a good team. But the girls have been through this umpteen times it seems like. You don’t realize when you do it how fortunate you are, but for them to be able to experience this and move on is special.”
Edwardsville will be back in Bloomington Friday for the state semifinals at Redbird Redbird Arena on the campus of Illinois State University. The Tigers (31-0) will meet Lombard Montini, a double-overtime winner over Homewood-Flossmoor at the Chicago Mother McAuley Super-Sectional,. at 5:30 p.m.
Benet’s season ends at 28-5.
The only two seniors on Edwardsville’s roster led the way Monday. Makenzie Silvey scored a game high 18, shooting 8-for-12 from the field with a pair of 3-pointers, and Criste’on Waters had 14 points to go with 10 rebounds.
Waters limped off the court late in the fourth quarter after taking a blow to the lower back attempting a rebound. She didn’t return to the game, but said she’ll be ready to go again for the weekend.
“We really thought we had it my junior year, so to finally get it done, the feeling is amazing,” said Waters, a four-year starter. “I think we’ve learned that you just have to go into every game with the same attitude.”
Blade, one of the winningest coaches in Illlinois history, has yet to win a state championship with the basketball Tigers, though they came close together with a second-place finish in 2012. She led Carrollton to consecutive Class A titles in 2001 and 2002.
Katie Jaseckas and Kendal Schramek hit 3-point baskets for Benet Academy at the start of the second quarter to tie the game, 16-16. But Waters capped a 6-2 run with a free throw to give Edwardsville a four-point lead the half.
It was an advantage the Tigers wouldn’t relinquish. They scored the first six points of the second half on buckets by Myri Noodel-Haywood and a break-away layup by Silvey.
A turn-around jump shot by Waters sparked a 12-2 run into the fourth quarter that put the Tigers ahead 49-27 with four minutes left in the game.
Edwardsville started slow, but finished the first half shooting 42.9 percent from the field. The Tigers were red hot in the second half, however, hitting 16 of 23 second half shots.
They were just as good on the defensive end of floor, holding Benet to just 35 percent shooting in the game and out-rebounding the Redwings 35-18.
“We take a lot of pride in our defense and work hard on it in practice,” said Silvey. “We were able to take away the strengths of some of their players which let them to take some bad shots were able to get the rebounds on.”
Noodel-Haywood, a 6-foot junior, also had a double-double for Edwardsville with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Senior Kendal Schramek led Benet Academy with 12 points. Katie Jaseckas, the Redwings’ 6-foot-1 senior, was held to nine points and four rebounds. She entered the game averaging 19.2 points per game.