Originally Posted Online: Feb. 22, 2013, 7:13 pm
Last Updated: Feb. 22, 2013, 11:30 pm

Annawan comes up short in 1A semifinals

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By Marc Nesseler, nesseler@qconline.com

Photo: Clark Brooks / PhotoNews
Annawan's Morgan VanHyfte wipes tears from her eyes as she heads back to the bench with teammates after their one point loss to Freeport Aquin at the Class 1A state semifinal on Friday. The Bravettes led by two at the half, fell by one 39-38 and will play in Saturday's third-place game.
Photo: Clark Brooks / PhotoNews
Annawan's Maddie Jackson goes up to score the first field goal for her team in first half action the Class 1A state semifinal on Friday in Normal.

NORMAL -- Annawan coach Jason Burkiewicz probably forever will remember the traveling call that went against his Bravettes in the final two minutes of Friday's Class 1A girls' basketball state semifinal, one he says had a major impact on the outcome.

Annawan all-stater Celina VanHyfte surely will remember the pain she endured, hobbling on a black-and-blue ankle and yet scoring 12 points, seven of those down the fourth-quarter stretch.

But for Freeport Aquin's Elayna Erdmier, who had the "assist" on the basket with 5.5 seconds left that gave the Bulldogs a heart-pounding, 39-38 victory at Illinois State University's Redbird Arena, she will have to check the replays.

Was that an errant Erdmier shot, or a pass that fell into the hands of all-stater Sophie Brunner, who banked in the basket for the eventual game-winner?

"I didn't even know she was there, in all honesty," Erdmier said of the Bulldogs' final possession. "I just remember hitting the ground" after the ball left her hand.

"It literally fell into my hands," noted Brunner, Aquin's 6-foot-1 center.

Told that she will be able to watch her pass/shot on TV replays, Erdmier laughed and said, "Oh great."

The assist settled a truly great battle between the state's top-ranked teams in 1A, Aquin (30-3) No. 1 and Annawan (29-3) No. 2. Though there were plenty of state jitters in the first half, with the Bravettes holding a 16-14 lead, there wasn't a shortage of second-half determination.

Annawan held its biggest lead at 33-26 on a swift hook by Celina VanHyfte with six minutes left in the game. As the game wound down to its final minute, the call that irked Burkiewicz the most came with his team up 36-33.

Megan Foes drove the lane for a basket that would have put Annawan up by five. However, she was whistled for traveling.

"Her foot never left the ground," the Annawan coach implored of that call not being made.

Asked if he would have liked to have replayed the final 14 seconds spending three team fouls that the Bravettes had to spare before putting the Bulldogs in the bonus, Burkiewicz said, "What I want back is when they called traveling on Foes with a little over a minute left."

After Brunner's basket, which gave her a game-high 21 points to go with her game-high 12 rebounds, the Bravettes had 5.5 seconds to come up with a game-winner. However, Aquin's defense prevented Annawan from getting off a good look.

"We wanted to push the ball with a screen for Maddie (Jackson) and get it to Morgan (VanHyfte, who had a team-high 16 points)," the coach said. "Celina was open -- they left her for the trap – but they got a hand on the ball as we passed it in."

Such a buzzer-beater would have been perfect for Celina VanHyfte, who played on a tank of heart and determination for all but seven minutes and 50 seconds on an ankle that she rolled the morning of Monday's super-sectional.

"The ankle's pretty bad," said said afterward. "It's purple on both sides."

"She did everything she could," the coach said of his standout. "She worked hard all week through pain to be there."

Celina finished with 12 points and five rebounds.

The Bravettes now will try to finish their season with a win over Cowden-Herrick today at noon and a third-place trophy.

"We want to finish with a win, for the seniors and for everybody to come back coming off a win," said Burkiewicz. "We will be ready to go. There's no shortage of heart."

Aquin coach Jeff Curry downplayed the idea that this tension-filled semifinal might have felt like a championship game.

"It's a semifinal; that's the way we looked at it," Curry said.

Pressed again for whether it had a title-game feel, he added, "It felt like a very good game, but the championship game is (today)."

Aquin, the defending 1A champion, will face Mt. Pulaski in the 2 p.m. title game.