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Walther Lutheran's Isimeme Edeko pulls down a rebound. | Allen Cunningham~For Sun-Times Media
Walther Lutheran was a win away from advancing downstate in 2010 and 2011, only to fall to Bishop Mac in a supersectional both years.
This season, Isimeme Edeko and her senior teammates were not going to miss out on their last chance at a trip to the promised land.
A 57-47 win over Seton in Monday’s Concordia University Supersectional — a victory keyed by Edeko, who had 27 points and 11 rebounds — locked up the Broncos’ first trip to state since the 2007 team finished fourth.
“This means so much for our seniors,” Edeko said. “This was our last chance and we’re just so happy to get to state finally and see what we can do.”
Walther (26-6) will meet Nashville (31-2) in a Class 2A semifinal set for 6:30 p.m. Friday at Illinois State’s Redbird Arena in Normal.
The Hornettes are a downstate small-school power, making their fourth appearance at state in five years and trying to reach the championship game for the first time since 1990.
Neither program has won a state championship.
“We’re just going to try to worry about what we have to do and focus on us,” Walther coach Todd Fisher said. “It feels great to finally be back at state. These girls have been so determined to get here from Day 1 this year. As coaches, we were so lucky to have a group like this. They made sure they’d get us here.”
Edeko is the unquestioned star of the senior-laden Broncos, averaging 14.7 points and 11.6 rebounds per game.
“You’ll see her name in that state program a lot,” Fisher said. “For good reason. She’s just a great player and she’s fun to watch. She’s carried us at times.”
The rebounding numbers are especially impressive for Edeko, who at 5-foot-9 consistently beats taller players to boards.
“We focus a lot on offensive rebounding,” Edeko said. “We run a lot of drills and we know how important it is to get them.”
Junior Dana Turner averages 11 points per game while senior twin guards Anna and Arra Strong pitch in 8.5 and 5.8 per game, respectively.
Senior MaShayla Kirksy (6.5 points per game) is a force off the bench.
The Broncos will have to slow down a balanced attack from Nashville, led by cousins Shaye and Jordi Harre, who average 12.9 and 11.2 points per game, respectively.
Walther has won 16 of its last 17 games, with the only loss a nine-point defeat to No. 1 Montini.
Edeko said the key to keeping the run going is for the Broncos to utilize their speed.
“We’ve got to make sure we push the ball,” she said. “We have to play as a team, too. We’ve been doing a great job of that in the playoffs and hopefully we can keep it up.”