NORMAL — Brimfield sophomore guard Elynn Peterson missed the first free throw in the biggest pair of attempts of her life. She sank the second to deliver Brimfield a 32-31 victory over Galena in the Class 1A State Championship game Saturday at Redbird Arena.
“I don’t want to go to overtime, so I really got to make this basket,” Peterson said she told herself. “So I said, ‘God, please help me,’ shot the ball, and it went in.”
Galena led 22-12 early in the fourth quarter. But that lead was trimmed quickly to 22-17, with a huge Ella Lune block leading to a runout and Elly Doe three-pointer. Brimfield had to complete the comeback without Doe, however, as she quickly picked up her fourth and fifth fouls.
Brimfield’s Jaclyn Fabry followed that with a three-pointer to cut the deficit to two. Out of a Galena timeout, Sophie Bedell put her own missed shot back in for a game-tying make, making it 22-22 and capping a 10-0 Brimfield run.
“It’s a dream come true to win state,” Bedell said. “I think we played really well together. We were really struggling in the first half, but when we came out (in the second half), we were communicating more and we were fixing our offense.”
Gracie Furlong’s corner three-pointer stopped the Brimfield run and put Galena back on top 25-22. Lune answered with an and-one bucket and free throw to tie it, then Fabry saved a ball from going out of bounds and found a cutting Bedell for a shot off the glass and a 27-25 Brimfield lead with just over four minutes left.
Lune finished with 10 points, eight rebounds and six blocks.
Galena sophomore Taylor Burcham muscled up a tough layup to tie it again, then both squads forced turnovers, and Burcham and Fabry traded buckets to make it 29-29. Burcham finished with a game-high 15 points.
“I was trying to keep the momentum going,” Burcham said.
Bedell sank a reverse layup for a Brimfield lead, only for Burcham to score another basket through contact on the other side to tie it 31-31. After Burcham missed the free throw, Brimfield called a timeout with 52.4 seconds left.
From there, Brimfield ran down the clock for Peterson’s drive, drawn foul and winning free throw.
“When you play the best teams in 3A and 2A you’re probably going to tell yourself we’ve played the best, so let’s just continue to play our game and it will work out, Brimfield. “And it did,”
The Pirates’ incredible 1-3-1 defense kept Brimfield off the scoreboard in the third quarter until the 1:49 mark when Sophie Bedell made 1-of-2 free throws to cut Galena’s lead to 21-12. The Pirates scored the first seven points of the second half.
Doe sank a layup for Brimfield’s final points of the third as Galena took a 22-14 lead into the fourth quarter.
Galena looked to set the tone defensively in the early going, with a block and two steals on Brimfield’s first three possessions. Brimfield was just as game defensively with three Lune blocks in the first quarter.
“We executed everything we wanted to do 90 to 95 percent of the game,” Galena coach Jamie Watson said “I said it a long time ago, we’re the best defensive team in 1A. I believe it now and I believed it when I said it six weeks ago.
“Taylor [Burcham] was a monster and really made big shot after big shot,” Watson said. “She was barely holding us up there at times.”