For the first time since 2007, the St. Edward girls basketball team has advanced to an IHSA supersectional.
The Green Wave started the first quarter with a 12-2 run against Chicago Latin School in a Class 2A sectional final at Guerin Prep, added a 9-3 spurt at its conclusion, and never looked back, prevailing 63-42 over the pesky but overmatched Romans Thursday night.
St. Edward, now 26-5, will play Illiana Christian at 7 p.m. Monday at Concordia University for a berth in the state semifinals next weekend at Illinois State's Redbird Arena.
"I was reminiscing with Maddie (Spagnola) before the game, and she was asking me all kinds of questions about past players and when's the last time we've made it to a game in supers," a beaming Green Wave coach Michelle Dawson said. "I told her we've been in some sectional final games, but we haven't made it to supers since the year we went downstate. She's like, 'Really coach -- we've only been to one super?'
"This game was just fun. I had jitters all afternoon, but once we got here to the gym and once I was around the team, they were focused, they were ready."
And how. St. Edward was taut on both sides of the ball Thursday, getting a game-high 21 points from senior guard Spagnola, and another 16 from junior guard Yssa Sto. Domingo. Junior guard Mariel Franco and senior forward Katelyn Castoro each chipped in 10.
But Franco and sophomore Hailey Niehaus -- tasked with guarding Latin's leading scorer, junior Jade Edwards (22 ppg) -- were terrific, holding her to a quiet 15 and none in the fourth quarter.
Of course, it didn't help that Latin shot just 3-for-14 from beyond the 3-point arc and turned the ball over 20 times. St. Edward also outrebounded the Romans 25-15.
"We've been able to wear teams down," Dawson said. "We're in very good shape, and we play incredibly hard."
Added Sto. Domingo: "Our mindset as a team is to have no mercy, so we go in every game and we're prepared."
That's how St. Edward looked coming out of the locker room, taking a 12-2 lead thanks to back-to-back 3-pointers from Spagnola and Franco. But the Romans responded with a 10-2 run of their own.
No matter. A Sto. Domingo 3-pointer at 2:19 started a 9-3 run that gave the Green Wave a 23-15 lead at the end of the quarter. Sto. Domingo also started an 11-2 run to end the second with a 3 that gave St. Edward a 42-28 halftime lead.
The closest Latin would get was 44-35 midway through the third quarter, but a 10-0 Green Wave run canceled any thoughts of a comeback for the Romans.
Now the Green Wave is on the cusp of a long-hoped for return to state. The key, Spagnola said, is business as usual this weekend.
"The mindset is having good practices, staying together as a team and staying healthy," Spagnola said, the cut-down net around her neck.