Jill Sto. Domingo
The St. Edward Lady Wave basketball team got off to a rough 2-3 start. It looked like the start of another mediocre season, one with a few good wins but too many tough defeats. Then, seniors Maddie Spagnola and Katie Castoro decided that they weren’t going to go out like that.
The team strung together a six game win streak heading into the always difficult Lisle Holiday Tournament. This momentum carried and they ended up winning the entire tournament. This included a narrow, four-point victory over Illiana Christian in the championship game.
Right after the tournament, the Lady Wave absolutely demolished South Elgin. A 66-38 thrashing is always exciting, but it is especially impressive when it features a small 2A school knocking off a strong 4A. St. Edward rattled off a 13 game winning streak that featured the tournament title, conference domination, and a surprising upset against a much large South Elgin team. The Lady Wave also ended the season on an 8-1 run before the playoffs began.
The playoffs, however, are where it really gets interesting. Anyone who watched the Lady Wave play could tell that they were good. They had a good chance to win Regionals, and Sectional champs definitely wasn’t out of the equation. However, Super-Sectionals were still a distant thought, and State was but a dream.
The Lady Wave coasted through their Regional, winning the first game by 56 points and the Regional final by 30. This solidified the “Wow, they’re good” idea. But a lot of really good teams win Regionals only to come across an impassable roadblock in Sectionals.
Then, the Lady Wave dominated Sectionals too. Their first Sectional game featured a merciless 59-point beat down of Chicago Clark, followed up by a convincing 21-point Sectional Championship victory over Chicago Latin. This is when State became a definite possibility. It was apparent that this team was not messing around, and although they didn’t have the toughest competition, they also were not going to slip up against inferior teams.
Super-Sectionals featured a rematch against Illiana Christian, the team that St. Edward beat to win the Lisle Tournament. That past victory was a four point game, and this one was even closer. Trailing by 14 at the break, the Lady Wave stormed back to win by three. It was an incredibly impressive performance, and it completely showed that St. Edward, without a doubt, deserved one of the final four spots in the IHSA 2A State Tournament.
With their second victory over Illiana booking a ticket to State, the Lady Wave traveled down to Normal, Illinois, accompanied by a fan bus of loyal and rowdy fans. Unfortunately, St. Edward lost a heartbreaker in the Semifinal against Bloomington Central Catholic by a score of 45-42. Castoro had a big game, but Spagnola and the rest of the Lady Wave just couldn’t get in rhythm.
Although they lost the first game, they still were playing for third. Even simply making it to State is an outstanding accomplishment, but it is heartnreaking to lose both games once you’re there. Fortunately for the Lady Wave, they don’t have to worry about any disappointment. They beat Central-Southeastern 47-42 to finish the third best 2A team in Illinois. Spagnola made up for her off day in the first game by coming out hot in the first half of the third place game. Offensively, Spagnola, Castoro, and junior point guard Yssa Sto. Domingo scored all but two of St. Edward’s points. The three are co-captains and they had been expected to carry the team all season, but they came up especially big when St. Edward needed them the most.
The Lady Wave finished with a 28-6 record. Spagnola scored her 1000th point and led St. Ed’s to a berth in State and lots of hardware. Spagnola’s 1000th point was pretty much inevitable, but the rest of the Lady Wave’s many, many accomplishments weren’t really. If you had asked Coach Dawson how she felt about the team’s chances at State after their 2-3 start, she probably would’ve brushed it off and talked about how they need to worry about getting back to .500 before they looked ahead in the season at all, let alone postseason. The talent was noticeable all season, but things just weren’t clicking at first. Then, somewhat magically, everything came together perfectly and the Lady Wave played to their full potential. They became a nearly unstoppable force, and rode that wave to 3rd in the state.