When it came time to shut the door on Friday's Lisle Holiday Cage Classic, St. Edward's girls basketball team knew what to do -- eliminate mistakes and make free throws.
The Green Wave did just that, hitting 5-of-7 fourth quarter shots, converting 9-of-12 free throws and committing only 3 turnovers. That composed conclusion to the contest helped St. Edward hold off determined Illiana Christian 71-67 and claim the tournament title.
"It's a big win for us," St. Edward senior Maddie Spagnola said. "I'm really glad we came out for this tournament and won it. We're really excited about it. This tournament was really hard for us and it will give us a lot of confidence."
Spagnola scored 26 points, hit all 6 free throws she attempted in the fourth quarter and was named tournament MVP for her efforts through the week.
"I'm really happy because I worked really hard but my teammates helped me so much," Spagnola said. "We're one big happy family. Getting all-tournament last year was nice, but this is better, especially because we won."
Joining Spagnola on the all-tournament team were Katelyn Castoro and Yssa Sto. Domingo. Castoro had 18 points and 10 rebounds against Illiana Christian while Sto. Domingo added 5 points.
"I think our team this year has so much chemistry and everyone plays so well together. It makes such a huge difference," Castoro said.
As in their semifinal win against St. Francis, the Wave (12-3) opened a large lead in the second quarter and fought off a furious fightback. Illiana Christian trailed 37-22 late in the first half and the margin was 10 with 90 seconds to go in the third quarter before the rally gained traction.
Paced by Gabby Kreykes' scoring, the Vikings clawed their way back into the game. Kreykes finished with 37 points, and when she scored underneath with 2:07 to play, St. Edward led just 61-58.
On St. Edward's next possession, Spagnola found Mallory Rejman for a layup, Sto. Domingo hit a pair of free throws and the lead never moved below 4 points the rest of the game.
"We talked about keeping our composure and keeping our poise and learning from (Thursday's) experience," St. Edward coach Michelle Dawson said. "I'm proud of these girls. This is just one of our goals and we want to keep building from this."