O'FALLON - Junior forward Sydney Harris scored the last 10 of her game-high 18 points in the second half of the final quarter, and it helped lift Edwardsville to a 57-45 win over O'Fallon in the final of the Southwestern Conference girls basketball tournament Saturday afternoon at the OTHS Panther Dome.

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The Panthers had come back from an 11-point deficit to tie the game before Harris took over as the Tigers won their 12th straight conference championship and took the rubber game of their season series with O'Fallon. The Panthers had defeated Edwardsville 60-41 to give the Tigers their only defeat of the season.

"It was a great team win," said Edwardsville head coach Cary Happe. "I thought we really worked together well, especially defensively, and with a game that had a lot of highs and lows, I thought we kept our heads and played well together."

Happe felt that the conference championship was the best way the season could have ended for Edwardsville, winning on the road in the gym where the Tigers had lost earlier.

"It's a great way to end the season," Happe said, "and it's tough not to have a postseason. But to go in their place and win, it's a great way to finish things up."

Edwardsville jumped to a 13-9 lead at the end of the first quarter, then extended the lead to 26-18 at halftime. The Panthers then cut the lead to 37-31 after three quarters, but the Tigers outscored O'Fallon 20-14, including an 8-0 run late, to take the win and the championship.

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Besides Harris' 18 points, Elle Evans and Macy Silvey had 12 points each, while senior Katelynne Roberts scored 11 points in her final game with the Tigers.

"She had an awesome game," Happe said of Roberts, "and I can't say enough good things about that kid. We'll miss her next year, but I'm sure proud of the way she finished the season strong."

Shannon Dowell led the Panthers with 19 points.

Even with all the complications that happened with the COVID-19 Pandemic that threatened the season, Happe very much enjoyed her first year as head coach of the Tigers, taking over for the retired Lori Blade this season.

"It's definitely not what we expected this season," Happe said, "but I'm very grateful for the assistants and the kids I got to work with. They're the ones who deserve this record."

The Tigers finished the season 16-1 while the Panthers finished 13-2. As far as the 2021-22 campaign goes, Happe will take time to enjoy the win and this season before going on to the next.

"We'll just enjoy this one tonight," Happe said, "and we'll get back at that in a few weeks."

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