A stone-cold shooting performance was too much for Mater Dei to overcome Monday.
The Knights were 7 of 39 from the field (18 percent) and paid the price with a 40-26 defeat at the hands of the Teutopolis Wooden Shoes in the Class 2A Salem Super-Sectional.
Mater Dei was 2 of 22 in the first half, as it fell behind 19-7 at the break and never recovered. The Knights missed all six of their 3-point attempts in the game and were 12 of 20 from the free-throw line.
"It's a heart-breaker on this type of night because we knew what was on the line," said 5-foot-9 junior Kierra Winkeler, who led the Knights with 11 points. "There's no re-dos or anything. Our shots weren't falling. (Teutopolis) played amazing defense. I give them credit."
Teutopolis, which lost 56-42 to Mater Dei on Jan. 29 in Breese, improved to 28-6. The Wooden Shoes will play Chicago Marshall at 7:15 p.m. Friday in the semifinals of the state tournament at Redbird Arena in Normal. Mater Dei finished 23-8.
Senior Macy Michels paced Teutopolis with 12 points and 11 rebounds, including two critical free throws that put the Wooden Shoes ahead 36-25 with 3:40 to play.
"I had a rough game last game, so I came out prepared," the 6-1 Michels said. "(Getting the lead) was a big confidence factor. You need to get the lead so you can feel the team going. Our defense really helped us. Morgan Mette had some major stops (on Winkeler), so that was awesome."
Michels wasn't surprised to see the Wooden Shoes bounce back after the loss to Mater Dei three weeks earlier. Teutopolis had defeated Mater Dei 43-39 on Jan. 18 in the Highland Tournament.
"I knew we had it in us," she said. "We came out ready to play defense."
Mater Dei played some defense of its own, forcing 17 turnovers by Teutopolis. But in most instances, the Knights were unable to convert at the other end.
"Things weren't falling," Mater Dei coach Dave Kohnen said. "You've got to give them credit, too. (Michels) was a force in the middle. She did a great job and she blocked a lot of shots."
Kohnen knew it could be a long night when Teutopolis broke out to an 8-2 lead after one quarter. The margin swelled to 14-3 in the first three-plus minutes of the second quarter before widening to 12 at halftime.
"The last two or three weeks, the shots were going in for us," Kohnen said. "Tonight, they weren't. That's the nature of the game. You have a bad night now and it's over. That doesn't take away from the character of this team. They play hard. They played hard the entire 32 minutes. I'm proud of the fact were were sectional winners."
Mater Dei made one late push.
Sparked by back-to-back baskets by Winkeler to start the fourth quarter, the Knights trimmed what had been a 16-point lead to 32-25 when Winkeler sank two free throws with 3:54 left.
But the Wooden Shoes responded with four consecutive free throws, two by senior Marianna Hemmen and two by Michels, to start an 8-1 run to close the game.
"I was very pleased with how we came out and played," said Wooden Shoes coach Laurie Thompson, whose team was 11 of 27 from the field (41 percent) and outrebounded Mater Dei 29-24. "Our defense was exactly what we talked about. They executed it to a 'T.' I'm super proud of them. I thought that was huge in the first half."