BLOOMINGTON — Overcoming all obstacles, including one they could not have foreseen, the Annawan Bravettes played their way to the IHSA 1A State finals, defeating Gilman Iroquois West 45-40 at Illinois Wesleyan's Shirk Center.
The day started with All-State center Celina VanHyfte suffering an ankle injury during a walk-through Monday morning at school. While VanHyfte did play 11 minutes in the second half, she did not score.
Annawan coach Jason Burkiewicz said he told his team that "Celina's had us on her back for so long that it was time to have hers … We thought this could be a defining moment for our program."
Senior guard Alyssa Thompson picked up the slack early, scoring the Bravettes' first six points of the game. She finished with 12 points,
Another of the many Bravettes stepping up was VanHyfte's sister, Morgan, a freshman guard, who delivered a game-high 18 points.
"I just had to try and play, just zone everything else out and play my regular game," Morgan VanHyfte told the Moline Dispatch-Rock Island Arqus. "We were all for Celina, and we knew it was time for us to carry her. We all kept positive, and we found a way."
Annawan (29-2) will meet top-ranked and defending state champion Freeport Aquin (30-3) at 12:15 p.m. Friday in the state semifinals at ISU's Redbird Arena in Normal.
Aquin defeated Elgin Westminster Christian 57-39 at DeKalb.
The second state semifinal of the day Friday matches Mount Pulaski vs. Cowden-Herrick at 2 p.m.
2A girls supersectionals
At Monmouth: Byron, the team that knocked out St. Bede in the Somonauk Sectional finals, fell in Elite Eight play Monday to El Paso-Gridley, 49-40.