GILMAN — In front of a loud crowd from both schools, Cissna Park won a roller-coaster of a ride, defeating Iroquois West 46-43 Thursday night to win the girls’ Class 1A sectional championship basketball game to advance into the Elite Eight.
The Timberwolves jumped on top 19-11 before Iroquois West rallied to close the gap by halftime (24-17) and surge ahead, 37-36, with 5:30 remaining in the fourth quarter.
The Timberwolves showed their heart and earned the three-point win against a Sangamon Valley Conference opponent they had lost to twice previously this season.
“We came out to defend. Our team has heart, and we made free throws down the stretch,” Cissna Park coach Stephen Summers said. “I give a lot of credit to Kevin Long (CP’s boys’ basketball coach), and I told the girls to trust in me, and they did. The biggest difference was our defense. We went from a high to a low, but they answered back.”
Cissna Park (23-8) advances into a 7 p.m. Monday super-sectional game against top-ranked Annawan at Bloomington’s Illinois Wesleyan University.
“It’s a disappointment, but I’m very proud of the girls,” IW coach Kristy Arie said. “We were down seven to eight points a lot, but we fought back. Our defense gave ourselves a chance.
“This season was a very good experience for our team, and it will be an advantage for us next season.”
In the closing seconds, Cissna Park’s Addison Stoller rebounded a three-point shot by Iroquois West and — after making two free throws — blocked a three-quarter shot to ensure the victory.
Lexi Knake led Cissna Park with a game-high 17 points. She scored eight of those in the fourth quarter. Stoller added 15 points, and teammate Madison Overbey added nine points, including two three-point baskets.
Iroquois West (22-6) was led by Grace Schroeder with 10 points. Three teammates had at least seven points.
Andrea Fuoss scored nine points, Skylar Small had eight points and Ariel Medina added seven points. The Raiders were ranked sixth in the final Class 1A state poll.
In another 1A sectional:
Central A&M 62, Arcola 57. In a Sweet 16 showdown between two state-ranked squads, No. 2 Central A&M needed two overtimes to edge No. 9 Arcola in the finals at Cumberland.
The Purple Riders (22-5) recovered from a five-point deficit entering the fourth quarter to force OT, tied at 47-47. Arcola scored its next five points from the free throw line and went into the second extra session tied at 52.
Samantha Reece led Arcola with 18 points. Taylor Edwards had 15 points, and teammates Alexis Conlin and Rylee Fishel added nine points apiece. Reece had nine rebounds, and Edwards grabbed eight.
“What a great season with a great bunch of girls,” Arcola coach Nancy Stiff said. “It was a very hard-fought game, and it just did not come out in our favor (Thursday).”
Arthur Okaw 60, Wabash Valley 29. Amanda Franklin scored a game-high 16 points for Arthur Okaw Christian (15-13) in a win at Terre Haute, Ind. Hanna Erwin and Elizabeth Urbeck each scored 10 points.
In boys’ basketball:
DeLand-Weldon 50, Urbana Uni High 43. Dee Woods scored 32 points and grabbed 16 rebounds, leading the Eagles (9-10) past the Illineks in the fifth-place game of the East Central Illinois Conference tournament in Normal. D-W’s Dalton Wooldridge had a team-high five assists. Teammate Bailey Fink hit the Eagles’ lone three-pointer and had three steals. Isaak Haberman led Uni with 20 points. He made three three-pointers.