BLOOMINGTON — Having a 5-5 record at one point this season, Cissna Park didn’t pop up automatically among area girls’ basketball teams that could make a deep postseason run.
But they did. It just ended a game short of the ultimate destination.
Cissna Park won’t play this weekend at Redbird Arena after Annawan defeated the Timberwolves 71-52 on Monday night during a Class 1A super-sectional game at the Shirk Center on the campus of Illinois Wesleyan University.
“It wasn’t like it was a pancake or anything,” Cissna Park coach Stephen Summers said. “There were multiple times where we were only down by nine. We just could not get a basket to fall at those crucial times.”
Annawan will make its second consecutive appearance at the state tournament after placing third last year.
Cissna Park (22-9) made its first Elite Eight appearance since 2000 and only third in school history Monday night. Falling behind 16-4 early in the first quarter made it an uphill climb the rest of the evening for the Timberwolves, who committed 28 turnovers.
“They’re lanky, and they’re quick,” Summers said. “They played a 2-1-2 press, and we knew it was going to be tough. You can only prep for it so much in practice, and they’re athletic and big. We knew we had to play a perfect game.”
Addison Stoller paced Cissna Park with 22 points and 12 rebounds. Going up against formidable post players Annawan has in Celina VanHyfte (22 points) and Morgan VanHyfte (20 points), Stoller more than held her own.
“We needed Addison to play like an all-stater, and I think everyone knows she is one,” Summers said. “She did it under extreme pressure. She drained only her second three-pointer of the year, and she actually did a pretty good job on the boards. I was impressed with both the VanHyftes. They hit some really, really tough shots. Hats off to them, but I’m proud of our girls.”
Madison Overbey contributed a double-double in her final game with the Timberwolves, scoring 10 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Lexi Knake added 10 points in Cissna Park’s biggest game of the season.
“It seemed like everyone in town was there,” Summers said. “We brought one fan bus over, and it was a great environment at a great facility.”
Overbey is one of three seniors the Timberwolves had this season, along with Logan Kaufman and Amanda Montgomery. With pieces like Stoller, Knake and Samantha Hasselbring returning, among others, Summers is confident another extended postseason journey can unfold next winter. And possibly end at Redbird Arena.
“We’ve got a good core back to work with,” he said. “We have a lot of underclassmen who we’re looking forward to developing different parts of their game even more this summer. The sky’s the limit. I don’t know if people even expected us to win a regional or sectional this year. It doesn’t matter, though, because we did, and we take away great memories from this season.”