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Both Walther Lutheran and Willowbrook played the game of “What if” following the Broncos’ 61-56 victory Tuesday at the 19th annual Lady Warriors Thanksgiving Tournament in Villa Park.
“What if” Walther Lutheran (2-2) had played the way they did Tuesday in an earlier loss to Aurora East?
“Had we played like this it probably would have been a different outcome,” said Walther Lutheran’s Isimeme Edeko, who led all scorers with 24 points and 10 rebounds Tuesday.
“What if” Willowbrook’s leading scorer, 5-9 senior guard Anita Sterling, had not been forced to sit 12 minutes of the first half with a disputed third foul that should have been assessed to a teammate?
“Four minutes into the game, we lost our entire frontcourt,” said Willowbrook coach Terry Harrell, who also was forced to replace 5-fo-10 senior forward Erma Udota after she picked up two fouls just 38 second into the game.
Either way, Tuesday’s final game of the six-team, five-day tournament proved to be a drama-packed adventure for both sides. But in the end, it was the unhindered inside play of the 5-foot-9 Edeko that carried the Broncos to their second win in four tries.
“Usually what we do is look for the post,” Edeko said. “We work well as a team. Four of us have been on varsity since our freshman year. We just wanted to work our hardest on this game because we weren’t expected to win, so we’re proud of ourselves.”
Edeko had 15 points by halftime to help stake the Broncos to a 34-26 lead.
“Our strength right now is getting the ball to kids in position to attack the basket and whatever happens, happens,” Walther Lutheran coach Todd Fisher said. “In our first couple of games these shots weren’t falling. The last couple of games, we were lucky enough that the shots were falling.
“Tonight, we were patient on offense until Terry (Harrell) put on that full-court press, then we got flustered,” he added. “But that’s what we like to do, change up our defenses and find out what works. If it’s full, three-quarters, zone or man, whatever it takes to win.””
Despite its foul trouble, Willowbrook (4-1) had several chances in the fourth quarter to close the deficit, but came up empty three times.
Colleen Krawczykowski’s three-pointer from the left corner with 3:39 remaining with the Warriors down 53-45, rimmed out. Colleen's sister, Molly, missed a point-blank layup with the Broncos leading 53-47 with 3:14 remaining, and Melissa Rader misfired on two free throws with Willowbrook facing a seven-point deficit at the 3:07 mark.
“We still had opportunities,” Harrell said. “We made a lot of opportunities for ourselves with the press. But we just could not make the shots we needed to.”
Willowbrook did manage to close the gap to 54-50 on Colleen Krawczykowski’s three-pointer with 2:48 remaining, but Walter Lutheran got a bucket from Edeko and pair of free throws from Dana Turner to seal it.
Dana Turne added 17 points for Walther Lutheran.