Edwardsville seniors lead Tigers to state
Edwardsville High School senior Criste’on Waters will never forget what it was like to stand on the sidelines and then walk into emotional Tigers locker rooms at the Shirk Center in Bloomington as opposing teams celebrated super-sectional victories.
Three straight years.
“My freshman year, I was on the team but really didn’t play much. But the last two years when we lost to Benet Academy, those were difficult to take,” Waters said. “I felt bad, especially for our seniors. To come so close to getting to the state tournament and coming up a game short, that’s not the way you want to remember your last game in high school.”
Thanks to a 59-38 win over two-time defending Class 4A state champion Benet on Monday on that same Shirk Center court, Edwardsville seniors Waters, Makenzie Silvey and Jasmine Bishop will end their high school careers playing for a Class 4A state championship at Redbird Arena in Normal.
Two three-year starters, Waters and Silvey, will be in the lineup at 5:30 p.m. Friday afternoon when the undefeated Tigers take on Montini Catholic (32-1) in a state tournament semifinal. A win would send Edwardsville to its second state title game in five years. Edwardsville lost to Whitney M. Young Magnet High School in the 2012 Class 4A final.
The 5-foot-11 Silvey, who was chosen as an Associated Press Class 4A first team all-state selection Thursday, has been a key player for the Tigers during the last three seasons. The Tigers’ leading scorer at 15.9 points per game, Silvey combined with juniors Kate Martin and Rachel Pranger to form a key trio during the 2016-17 season. The 6-foot Waters, one of the Tigers top defenders, averages 8.2 points and is second on the team behind Pranger with 177 rebounds.
“I think that’s why we’ve had the success we’ve had this year. We’ve had that chemistry between us. Most of us have played together for three years now, and we know what we all can do. We’ve been there for each other, and we’ve picked each other up when we’ve had an off night,” Silvey said. “We have great team chemistry.”
Earning their stripes
Silvey and Waters have been on Tigers teams that have won four straight Southwestern Conference titles, regional titles and sectional championships. Both have scored more than 1,000 points in their career. Waters topped 1,000 points earlier this season, while Silvey cracked the mark during the 2015-16 season.
Silvey and Waters have also been a part of Edwardsville teams that have won 120 games.
“They have both have outstanding careers and have been a big part of this program for the past four years,” Edwardsville coach Lori Blade said. “They both came up to the varsity as freshman, but they didn’t see a lot of playing time. We had a very talented group, and they had to earn their time. But for the last three years, they have been played a lot of minutes for this basketball program.”
Coach on the floor
Silvey, an honorable mention all-state selection a year ago before being named first-team all-state this season, committed to Southern Illinois University Carbondale before her senior year. Waters also committed to the Salukis last summer.
In the Class 4A Normal Community Sectional title game, it was Silvey who stepped up and hit the go-ahead shot as the Tigers took the lead for good against Rock Island.
“Makenzie has tremendous court awareness,” Blade said. “She just makes the right decisions on the court and plays with a lot of poise. She’s like a coach on the court.”
But like Waters, Silvey said that winning the super-sectional Monday was one of the games she’ll remember the most.
“I think that we had worked so hard this one game, and being seniors and knowing how much time we’ve all put into being a better basketball team this year, it makers this even more special. Hopefully we come out and play like we can at state this weekend,” Silvey said. “We know Montini is a good basketball team, and we feel like we are, too. We’re looking forward to the game.”
Playing through pain
Waters, who was injured late in the win over Benet Academy, will play this weekend in Normal.
“I’m still hurting a little bit. I’m sore, and I will be, but I’m playing,” Waters said with a smile.
“For me, I think I’ve matured a lot this year. I’m not letting things bother me and my attitude is better. I think some of our success this season is due to the extra motivation of losing in the super-sectional the last three years. We were even more motivated this year to get back there, win that game and get to the state finals. Well, we did, and we’re going to into the games this weekend and play as well as we can.”