NORMAL, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF)–The Byron Lady Tigers continue their dominant postseason run. Thursday afternoon their won their Class 2A State semifinal game against Chicago Butler Prep 55-43.
The Lady Tigers led 22-13 at halftime after taking command in the second quarter by outscoring Butler 12-2. Byron opened up a 17 point lead in the third quarter before Butler made a run, but the Lady Tigers stayed poised and closed the deal.
For Byron head coach Eric Yerly, it’s always been about more than wins or losses. It’s about the journey, and that journey has led them to the state championship game.
“We had some tough times and we had some adversity and we learned from our mistakes, and that’s typically what we do is teach growth and peak at the end of the season and you’re seeing it now.”
Senior Ava Kultgen again led Byron in scoring with 17 points, but she had a lot of help. Freshmen Macy Groharing and Malia Morton each scored 10 points. Senior Ella Grundstrom added 14 rebounds and seven assists.
“When I know I’m not scoring a lot, like I’m missing my shots, I have other roles to play and that turned into rebounding in the second half and that’s what really led us to the bigger lead,” said Grundstrum. “I find roles that aren’t being taken care of and fill them instead of scoring the most points.”
“We told them we felt like we were getting good shots,” said Yerly. “I just slow down a little bit because we were rushing them because of the speed of the gam,e and once we got a couple to fall, I think we got more confidence. I’m just happy for the kids and really pleased at our community, I think we broke over into the other section and filled ours up. Outstanding representation for the Byron community.
“I couldn’t ask for a better way to go out,” said the senior Grundstrom. “You know losing last year in the sectional final against Winnebago, I mean they were a great team, but to be here my senior year along with my best friends is the way to go out.”
The Byron girls came into this season arguably as one of the underdogs, but it’s pretty amazing what a little chip on the shoulder can do. Now just one game stands between them and another 2A state title. They will play for the championship on Saturday at 12:45 against Breese Mater Dei. Mater Dei knocked off defending 2A state champion Quincy Notre Dame in the other semifinal game 61-54.