Byron Lady Tigers take 2nd at IHSA 2A State Championship

Published: Mar. 4, 2023 at 10:52 PM CST
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NORMAL, Ill. (WIFR) - A memorable season for Byron’s girls’ basketball team came to an end Saturday.

The Lady Tigers earned a 2nd place finish at the IHSA Class 2A State Championship after they lost to Mater Dei 62-46.

Freshman Macy Groharing led the way for Byron with 14 points. Senior Ava Kultgen added on 12 points.

Byron trailed 16-8 at the end of the 1st quarter. After trailing by as many as 14 points in the 2nd quarter, Brynn Green nails a three-point jumper with 20 seconds left, and Byron trailed 30-24 at halftime. Byron trailed by 19 at one point in the 4th quarter but only could trim the deficit to 10 points with 2:47 left.

Even though the team didn’t get the outcome they wanted, the team is proud of what they’ve accomplished.

“We’ve grown so much on the court but it’s not always about that. We’ve grown so much off the court, made so many friendships, just well people that I want to be around and I’m just to thankful for that,” says senior Ava Kultgen.

“Definitely it’s sad to come up short but I look at all those girls and what we’ve accomplished. We could’ve been done three weeks ago but we aren’t. So I really take that for granted,” says senior Ella Grundstrom.

“It’s a process but like you said you always enjoy the journey and wide the waves. There’s a lot of ups and downs during practices and games. you just keep on going and hope for the best,” says freshman Macy Groharing.

The Lady Tigers advanced to Saturday’s state championship at CEFCU arena in Normal after beating Butler Prep 55-43 in Thursday’s semi-finals.

Byron’s opponent, Mater Dai, beat the defending state-champion Quincy Notre Dame 61-54 in the other semi-final Thursday.

Quincy Notre Dame beat Winnebago, Byron’s conference foe, last season to claim the state title.

Saturday concluded the Tigers’ 6th trip to the IHSA State Finals and third under current Head Coach Eric Yerly. The Tigers’ previous two trips under Coach Yerly ended in back-to-back championships (2015-16, 2016-17).

“We just told them. Also said be proud when you walk up there and get your medals. Smile and wave to your fans because it was a dream to come down here and even to win a game down here and get into the title game is a huge accomplishment,” says Head Coach Eric Yerly.

Byron IHSA State Appearances:

1987-88 (Class A): Did not place, Head Coach John Nolan

1995-96 (Class A): 3rd Place, Head Coach John Nolan

2005-06 (Class A): Did not place, Head Coach John Nolan

2015-16 (Class 2A): State Champions, Head Coach Eric Yerly

2016-17 (Class 2A): State Champions, Head Coach Eric Yerly

2022-23 (Class 2A): , Head Coach Eric Yerly

Byron finished the 2022-2023 season with a 34-3 overall record and was the outright conference champion after going a perfect 9-0 in Big Northern Conference (BNC) play.