NORMAL -- The heartbreak of a state tournament loss can turn to elation overnight.
Just ask the St. Edward girls basketball team.
The tears of disappointment after a 3-point loss to Bloomington Central Catholic in Friday's semifinals became smiles and tears of joy less than 24 hours later as the Green Wave overcame a slow start to beat Central Southeastern of Camp Point 47-42 in the third place game of the Class 2A tournament at Redbird Arena.
"I'm so proud of these girls and how hard they've worked," said St. Edward coach Michelle Dawson, a graduate of the school who played on the Wave's 1991 fourth place state team and coached the team to the Elite Eight in 2007.
"To end our season with a win like this is fantastic. We get to end on a high note and that's how our whole season has been -- a high note."
The state trophy is St. Edward's fifth in girls basketball, following the Class A championship in 1985, third place in 1986, second in 1988 and fourth in 1991.
Senior standouts Maddie Spagnola and Katie Castoro carried the offensive load for the Green Wave (28-6) as they have done most of the season, but it was a layup and free throw accuracy from junior Yssa Sto. Domingo that helped seal the win.
Spagnola, who was held to 8 points in Friday's loss, was more her all-state self Saturday, scoring 22 points and hitting 5 of 9 from 3-point range.
"I am so satisfied right now," said Spagnola, who finished her St. Edward career with 1,601 points. "It felt great to hit that first 3. I had such a bad game (Friday). The jitters were gone today. It kind of felt like our home court. We just said we gotta end on a high note and winning this third place is the greatest feeling in the world."
Castoro added 14 points and 7 rebounds in her final game at St. Edward.
"It's a great way to end my senior season, on such a high note," she said.
CSE came out the aggressor and appeared to have more energy than the Green Wave to start the game. The Panthers (30-4), who finished third in Class 2A last year, jumped out to a 14-6 lead in the first quarter and still led 18-10 early in the second when St. Edward found some energy of its own and went on an 8-0 run to tie the game at 18 on a 3-pointer from Sto. Domingo with 5:38 left in the half.
The Green Wave trailed 24-22 at halftime but quickly took their first lead of the night 52 seconds into the third quarter when Spagnola buried a 3 from the left elbow.
The Wave never trailed again. CSE did manage a tie at 30-30 but a 6-0 St. Edward spurt kept the Panthers at bay. That run was fueled by Sto. Domingo's drive through the lane for a layup that gave the Wave a 32-30 lead, an advantage they never relinquished.
"I saw an opening and just took it strong," said Sto. Domingo, who was 5-for-6 from the free-throw line in the game's final minute and finished with 9 points.
St. Edward was able to fend off CSE down the stretch, not allowing the Panthers to get closer than 4 points the entire fourth quarter. Appropriately, Spagnola scored the final point of the game when she split a pair of free throws with 2.7 seconds to play.
The win also brought a fair amount of personal satisfaction to Dawson, who completed her 13th year as head coach of the Green Wave and now has a 208-160 career record.
"It means a lot to me," said an emotional Dawson. "I told (the team) this is part of St. Ed's history. "I got so many emails and text messages from former players and teammates like Beth (Sauser, a 1987 St. Edward grad and now the girls basketball administrator for the IHSA) and (Dawson's 1991 coach) Jack (Miller). It's been an emotional day for us. It's a different feeling knowing it's your last game of the season."
And the last game in a Green Wave uniform for Spagnola and Castoro, as well as their classmates Brittany Mauritzen and Taylor Schueler.
"They're irreplaceable," Dawson said of Spagnola and Castoro. "We've got some big shoes to fill next year. Not any one person can replace the leadership Katie and Maddie have shown this program."