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EDWARDSVILLE - Junior guard Macy Silvey led a balanced Edwardsville attack with 13 points, and the Tigers went on a 12-0 run int the second quarter, shutting out Belleville West as the Tigers went on to a 45-25 win in the second semifinal of the Southwestern Conference girls postseason basketball tournament Friday evening at Lucco-Jackson Gym.

The win sent Edwardsville to the final on Saturday afternoon, where they will play top-seeded O'Fallon, a 50-40 winner over Belleville East in the first semifinal, in a much-anticipated matchup that is expected to be perhaps the game of the season to conclude the COVID-19 shortened 2020-21 basketball year in Illinois.

The Tigers used their balanced scoring attack and good patience on defense to take charge of the game in the second quarter, grinding out the win to advance to the final.

"Yeah, I thought we did a great job of grinding it out," said Edwardsville coach Caty Happe, "and making sure we knew where they were when we were playing defense, and thought we boarded really well, which is important."

The Maroons played a very deliberate and patient offense, with long possessions as they constantly looked for good shots, and the Tigers' defense followed suit, staying with West and not giving them very good looks.

"It's definitely tough," Happe said, "but it's something we really need to pay attention to, especially going into tomorrow for our defense. So I thought it helped with our communication, because their possessions would be 30-plus seconds long. So we did a good job matching up with kids, and I thought we did a really good job holding them to under 20 with those starting kids."

The Tigers started seeing their shots drop in the fateful second quarter, a result of staying with their offensive rebounding and knowing their shots would eventually fall.

"Absolutely," Happe said. "We stayed on the offensive board, which kept us alive. But we've got some really great shooters, and if their open, they need to shoot the ball."

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The balanced scoring also very much pleased Happe.

"Awesome to see," Happe said. "I thought that this was probably the most unselfish game we've played. I thought we boarded really well. just an overall good game going into tomorrow."

Silvey got things going for the Tigers with a three to start the proceedings, but Maliah Sparks hit back-to-back baskets to give the Maroons a 4-3 lead. The teams exchanged baskets, with a score from Emerson Weller putting the Tigers up 7-6, An Ariana Bennett free throw and a basket from Katelynne Roberts extended the Tiger lead to 10-6, with a Sparks free throw cutting the Edwardsville lead to 10-7 at quarter time.

The Tigers started their decisive 12-0 run with a pair of Elle Evans free throws, and from there, a three from Silvey, a basket from Weller, an Evans three, and a pair of Sydney Harris free throws took the lead to 22-7, while the Tiger defense clamped down on the Maroons' patient offense, not allowing very good looks at the basket. And when West had good shots, they wouldn't fall, with the Tigers getting good rebounding. The Maroons had a chance at the last shot of the half, but couldn't get it off as the Tigers went into the interval leading 22-7.

As the third quarter started, Lamiya Terrell hit a three to cut the Edwardsville lead to 22-10, with a Harris basket and a Silvey three pushing the lead up to 27-10. A long two pointer by Charleece Davis made it 27-12, with a pair of free throws and a basket by Reese Bennett putting the Maroons to within 27-16. But a Silvey basket in the lane made the score 29-16 for the Tigers at three quarter time.

A pair of Harris free throws and a long two from Roberts put the Tiger lead back to 33-16 to start the final quarter, and after an exchange of baskets, a Harris three up top gave Edwardsville a 38-19 lead. From there, the Tigers outscored the Maroons 7-6 the remainder of the game to take their 45-25 win and advance to the final.

Besides Silvey's team-leading 13 points, Harris chipped in with nine points, Weller had eight points, Evans scored seven points, Roberts scored four points, Ella Cook scored three points and Ariana Bennett had a single point. Sparks led the Maroons with nine points, while Reese Bennett scored four points and both Davis and Tomia Brown had two points each.

West ends their season with an 11-5 record, while the Tigers are now 15-1, and go to the final Saturday afternoon against O'Fallon at the OTHS Panther Dome in the rubber game of their season series. The Tigers won at home 67-62 in overtime, while the Panthers took a 61-40 win in O'Fallon six days later. Happe and the Tigers are eagerly awaiting the challenge.

"Absolutely," Happe said. "I mean, it's the game everyone wants to see, and we're going to do everything we can to make it the best game possible."

Dan Brannan also contributed to this story.

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