Byron celebrates back-to-back state titles

NORMAL — Defending state champ Byron, led by Paige Holloway’s 22 points, got hot in the second half and cruised past Bloomington Central Catholic 55-32 on Saturday to win another championship.

But it wasn’t pretty for either team early in the 2A title game.

Byron coach Eric Yerly looked up at the scoreboard early in the first quarter and was a bit stunned.

“I looked up and both teams were shooting like 13 percent from the field,” Yerly said. “I think we were just trying to make too much happen too fast. But we got it together in the second half.”

Byron (34-2) led 19-16 at the half. Byron shot 18.2 percent from the field, while Bloomington (22-11) hit only 9.1 percent of its shots.

“Pretty bad,” Yerly said. “But as long as we had the lead, I honestly didn’t care what the score was.”

“We were hanging around at that point,” said Bloomington coach Debra Coffman. “But Byron has a team of veterans and it showed. They were back here (in the championship game) for a reason. We played them hard at the beginning, and I’m really proud of these kids.”

Holloway got the hot hand in the final two minutes of the third quarter, draining three 3-pointers and a layup as Byron began to pull away.

“Once she hit a couple, we gave her the green light,” Yerly said. “That pretty much put the game away for us at that point. After that, we just started running.”

Bailey Burrows and Lexi DeVries added 10 each for Byron.

Bailey Coffman led Bloomington with 10 points, while Lauren Shanks scored eight.

“We had a young club out there,” coach Coffman said. “It looks like we have a good future ahead of us.”

Yerly was clearly enjoying his second state championship in as many years.

“I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t love to do this every year,” he said. “But it takes a lot of work and a lot of luck. What a way to go out for these seniors. I couldn’t be prouder.”

–Associated Press

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