In the eyes of (Lisle) Benet Academy coach Joe Kilbride, there is no doubt that senior Kathleen Doyle is the best guard in the state.
On Monday at the Shirk Center on the campus of Illinois Wesleyan University, Doyle may have proven it.
Doyle scored on a layup with 9.6 seconds remaining to break a 51-all tie and give the defending Class 4A state champion Redwings a 53-51 win over Edwardsville in the Bloomington 4A Supersectional.
Trailing 43-36 entering the fourth quarter, the Redwings (30-3) rallied behind Doyle, Kendal Schramek and Elise Stout. A short jumper by Stout with 1:27 remaining gave Benet its biggest lead of the game at 51-47.
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But Edwardsville rallied. Free throws by Makenzie Silvey and Rachel Pranger tied the game with 53.2 seconds remaining, setting the stage for Doyle’s heroics.
After Doyle missed a jumper with 19 seconds left there was tie up but the Redwings got the ball back on the alternate possession.
Given a second chance, Doyle, a Nebraska recruit, went by the Tigers defender and scored on a layup.
“I was going to take the best possible shot,” Doyle said. “I saw I had an opening and took it. I’m just glad my teammates had faith in me to get me the ball.”
Edwardsville got the ball back and reserve guard Jasmine Bishop was fouled with 0.8 seconds remaining. Bishop had taken over for Aaliyah Box fouled out minutes earlier. Bishop missed both free throws and the Redwings were back in the state tournament.
“I’m blessed because I get to coach who I feel is the best player in the state,” Kilbride said. “Tonight she basically put us on her shoulders and carried us to the win.”
“Edwardsville is so well coached and just a great basketball team. We’ve played a lot of very good basketball teams and let me tell you that Edwardsville is right there with all of them. We feel very fortunate to win this game.”
The win moves Benet Academy into the Class 4A State Tournament semifinals on Friday at 8:15 p.m. where it will take on River Forest Trinity at Redbird Arena. River Forest defeated Lombard Montini 60-53 on Monday to advance to the final four of Class 4A.
Edwardsville, led by the play of junior Criste’on Waters and Kate Martin led 17-11 after one quarter and by as many as eight points in the second period before going cold over the final 3 1/2 minutes of the opening half. Making four of its 10 turnovers during that stretch, the Tigers saw a comfortable lead dwindle to just a point at 27-26 at in intermission.
“We just fell apart there in the last 3 1/2 minutes of the first half. We turned the basketball over and just allowed them to get back in the game. I thought we had a chance to be up six or eight points there at halftime,” Tigers coach Lori Blade said. “Instead we go up one point and then they come out in the second half and score on a play we knew they were going to run and take the lead.
“We came back and played well though. I’m proud of my team. They played hard and gave it everything they had until the end. Just like they always do.”
Doyle led all scorers with 25 points, while Waters led Edwardsville with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Kate Martin chipped in with 13 points while Rachel Pranger added 10.