It was wild for the entire four quarters and there were more points than even most "high-scoring" girls basketball games, and there sure was a majestic rally.
But when the teams moved off the court after Thursday's Lisle Holiday Cage Classic, St. Edward had an 81-78 victory over St. Francis. The Green Wave (11-3) advanced to today's 8 p.m. tournament title game against Illiana Christian.
"They're excited to be in this game," St. Edward coach Michelle Dawson said. "They know it's been a couple of years since we've been here and they're really proud of how hard they've worked and they're excited about tomorrow."
After a mostly even first quarter, St. Edward surged to a 48-35 halftime lead. Keying the Wave was Madelyn Spagnola, who scored 20 of her game-high 34 points in the opening half. Katelyn Castoro added 16 of her 18 points in the opening half to complement Spagnola.
The lead stood 58-40 with 2:36 left in the third quarter before St. Francis rallied with an 11-0 run to trim the lead to 58-51 entering the fourth quarter.
"There were times when we maybe forced trying to make something happen when we should have slowed it down," Dawson said. "St. Francis made its run and we need to do a better job of stopping it and keeping our poise."
St. Francis (6-5) sustained its rally into the fourth quarter and closed to 63-62 when freshman guard Elise Hayes hit a driving layup with 5:02 left in the game. A pair of Yssa Santo Domingo free throws gave St. Edward breathing space, and though the Spartans kept rallying, the Green Wave won the contest.
"Our kids are incredible when they turn the switch on," St. Francis coach Melissa Taylor said. "We play team ball and camaraderie becomes the main thing, we become unstoppable. I'm very pleased with our effort tonight."
Antwainette Walker and Madison Wisted led St. Francis with 21 and 20 points, respectively. The Spartans play Antioch at 6:30 p.m. in the third-place game.
"I told them to put a chip on their shoulders and be ready to come and battle tomorrow," Taylor said. "They'll come and perform because they're mad we lost just like I'm mad. They're the comeback kids, though, and they'll never throw in the towel."