If a tournament championship game is supposed to be dramatic, St. Edward's 43-42 victory against Timothy Christian on Friday night was a fine way to cap off the Lisle Holiday Cage Classic.
Down 10 points early in the fourth quarter, the Green Wave (13-3) shook off a poor shooting night and held the Trojans to just two field goals the rest of the game to win its first Lisle title.
"We just had to get that fire in us to get ahead," said St. Edward guard Callie Johnson, the tournament MVP. "You can't give up hope, and that's what we did. We pulled it out of somewhere."
"It was a real tough one," added Timothy Christian coach Ryan DeKoekkoek. "We just got done talking to a bunch of girls who feel like the air just got taken out of their balloon."
Trailing by 2 points at halftime, Timothy Christian (10-4) got hot in the third quarter, taking a 30-25 lead heading into the final eight minutes. The fourth quarter opened with a Jessica Dirkse 3-pointer and a Stephanie Kuiper 2-pointer with 6:48 to play, and the Trojans looked like they might make it a rout.
"A lot of things were going our way," DeKoekkoek said. "I could sit here and tell you this and this and that, but momentum killed us at the end."
"Timothy played with so much energy and heart, and they had the momentum going for them three-quarters of the game," Green Wave coach Michelle Dawson said. "We did not have our best shooting night, way too many turnovers, we got killed on the boards, but somehow we found a way to gut it out at the end."
The Green Wave gradually whittled the Trojans' lead to 39-37 when Madeline Kerr, after missing her first seven 3-point shots, canned the eighth to give St. Edward the lead back.
"She was like, I was airballing all these balls," Johnson said of Kerr. "And I was like, that's the shot that mattered. I don't care if you airballed every single shot. At least you made that shot."
From there St. Edward pulled away at the free-throw line, taking a four-point lead that made Dirkse's buzzer-beating 3-pointer academic.
"We have a possession chart that we look at pretty closely, and after the game we looked at the last six possessions and five of the six were turnovers," DeKoekkoek said. "When you're trying to hold a lead, when you're trying to finish a game, turnovers are the worst thing you can do. So give credit to St. Eds. They pressured more, and we just got very hesitant. It was a tough loss."
Junior guard Rena Ranallo led the victors with 11 points and 6 steals, and Johnson scored 8 points.
Timothy Christian's Cassidy Block had a game-high 14 points to go with 7 rebounds, and Tessa Bosman added 11 points and 12 rebounds.