Girls Basketball Undefeated, Looks Toward Another Deep State Run

Sam Lance, Sports Editor

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Picture this. The seats are packed at Redbird Arena, the crowd goes crazy with every made basket and the competitive spirit of the players thrives as the season is on the line.

This is where Edwardsville girls basketball found themselves last year: the state championship game. However, they came up short and had a crushing one point defeat. This year, the lady Tigers hope to reverse their misfortunes and bring home a state title.

“We return three starters so there were pretty high expectations coming in,” head coach Lori Blade said.

The lady Tigers welcomed back Kate Martin, Rachel Pranger and Myriah Haywood for their senior years, along with sophomore Quierra Love, who had a promising freshman campaign.

Edwardsville is undefeated once again at 23-0 and have two games left in the regular season. The Tigers are beating their opponents by an average of 30 points this year and have dominated the playing field.

USA Today’s Girls Basketball Expert Rankings has the Tigers ranked the 13th best team in the country and the best team in Illinois. Statline Sports Network has the girls ranked No. 1.

“It’s nice to get some recognition for our hard work and bring some recognition to why EHS is a great school,” senior star Kate Martin said.

Martin, a University of Iowa commit, is one of the best players in the state and is averaging 17.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game, all while shooting a whopping 90 percent from the field, according to the St. Louis Post Dispatch.

“She’s put in a lot of time developing her offensive skills,” coach Blade said. “The part I love about her is her competitiveness. She’s not going to back down from anybody.”

Once again, the Tigers look to make a deep run into state, but getting there will be challenging.

Since the 2006-07 season Edwardsville girls basketball has had 28 or more wins per season, so they are used to this type of winning culture. However, they haven’t been able to get over the hump with a state championship.

Coach Blade said that tournament play is so difficult because anybody can beat anybody on any given night, whether they’re the perceived underdogs or not.

“You have to get lucky,” she said. “You have to be pretty good and you have to be able to execute.”

However, this could be the Tigers year. With the talented core Edwardsville possesses, they will be a tough out in the postseason.

“(The girls) have put together a great season,” Blade said. “They just love to be together and compete and that makes our job fun.”

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