By Christopher Johnson

According to pre post-season rankings, two of the most powerful teams in the State of Illinois’ Class 2A State Tournament faced off for the State Championship.

Winnebago stood with southwestern Illinois’ best team, Quincy Notre Dame and fought for the right to bring home the State Championship Trophy.

The Lady Indians earned the right to play for the top honors this year. They were ranked number one as the 2A State Tournament opened when February prepared to come to a close.

Every time they took the court in the second season, they were the team to beat. Each team that tried failed, until this past weekend.

Quincy Notre Dame was ranked number two in the State of Illinois. They faced the same destiny the Lady Indians did.

Through the nights and as honors accumulated, Regional Titles, Sectional Crowns and Super-Sectional Trophies became the possession of both of this year’s State Championship Game representatives.

The Lady Raiders were 27-3 as they laced them up on Championship Saturday. Winnebago was 35-2.

When the referee put the game into motion, Winnebago took advantage of its openings. As minute after minute wound down in the opening frame, the State of Illinois’ top team began to forge separation.

As the first quarter ended, the Lady Indians held a two-point lead 11-9 and was looking to add on to it in the second.

Offensively, the two teams put more points on the board in the second period then they did in any time span on Saturday.

The Lady Raiders were a point better when the halftime siren sounded. However, the State’s number two team still remained down, 29-28.

There was a lot of discussion at the break as to what was going right and what had to change if the teams wanted to assure a more favorable outcome.

Quincy Notre Dame followed the plan better in the third. Patience and security became key players.

As the seconds played through, the Lady Raiders took control and then pushed the game to a little higher level of defensive denial.

Winnebago was held to ten points in the third. The lead was gone and now serious questions began rising as to how to change things quickly.

When the fourth frame forged forth, the Lady Indians looked to cut into the 48-39 hole they had fallen into.

Each team took time to gain the inside advantage in the fourth as the speed of the game picked up. Shots mattered more and points scored with the clock stopped was a necessary form of survival.

The Lady Indians won the fourth quarter, but couldn’t overcome the deficit they had fallen in in the third. When the game to a close, the 63-56 decision was registered on the season’s scorecard.

Winnebago lost for only the third time this season and outside of Pana, from downstate Illinois, which won 36 games this year, carried the most victories into the end of the winter season.

The appearance in the State Championship’s Final Four is something the Lady Indians had done before.

In the 1991-1992 season, Winnebago won 30 games and suffered two losses, earning them third place in the Class A Tournament.

This year’s 35-3 mark and second place trophy marks a high point for both Head Coach Judy Krause and the Winnebago School District and its athletes.

Congratulations on a wonderful season Winnebago from everyone at The Gazette newspaper!

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