Girls Basketball

Top-ranked Edwardsville clinches ninth straight SWC championship

Playing for the final time on the Lucco-Jackson Gymnasium floor Tuesday, Edwardsville seniors Kate Martin and Rachel Pranger gave a large home crowd one last game to remember.

Martin connected on three 3-pointers and combined with Pranger for 17 first-quarter points as the Tigers jumped out to a quick lead and coasted to a 67-34 win over O’Fallon in a Southwestern Conference game.

The top-ranked Class 4A team in the state, Edwardsville (24-0) wasted little time in establishing control over the Panthers (23-4, 10-3). A University of Iowa recruit, Martin set the tone with 11 first-quarter points as Pranger scored on three medium-range jump shots for Edwardsville, which led 23-7 after one quarter.

With seniors Sydney Thurwalker and Jayla Stubblefield both in early foul trouble, O’Fallon was never a threat to the Tigers, who clinched a ninth straight SWC title with the win.

“I guess I just felt it,” Martin said of her early 3-point shooting. “It’s always good to come out and get a big early lead, and we did that tonight.

“To be able to have had the success we’ve had, winning four straight conference championships in our four years ... it means a lot. But I guess it means more because of the teammates I’ve had here. I wouldn’t have wanted to do with any other group of players.”

The win lifted Edwardsville to 13-0 in the SWC. The Tigers can wrap up another undefeated league season Thursday at Alton. But on Tuesday, the story was the Edwardsville senior class.

The Tigers senior class is now 116-4 in nearly four seasons, and on Tuesday, it achieved perfection at Lucco-Jackson Gymnasium. The home crowd gave the Edwardsville players several standing ovations before, during and after the game.

“I know how much that meant to the kids. I really think a lot of the people here tonight were here because of the type of kids we have on this basketball team,” Tigers coach Lori Blade said. “I thought we came out and played well. O’Fallon has a good team, and we came out and played well throughout. We played a complete four quarters.

“What these kids have been able to do here in four years has been tremendous. ... We have had classes go through here who have won over 100 games before, but I’m not sure there has even been a class which has never lost a home game. It hasn’t been just Kate (Martin) or Rachel (Pranger) either. Every member of this senior class has played a big part in the success we’ve had.”

Pranger led Edwardsville with 22 points, while Martin added 19.

Sophomore Makayla Best led O’Fallon with eight points.