ROCK ISLAND -- A state title. First-team All-State honors. The top media-ranking locally. The Most Outstanding Player award for the victorious All-Star team.
Annawan's Celina Van Hyfte earned all of those team and individual accolades this girls' basketball season, capping off a monumental year with game-highs in points (19), rebounds (7) and blocked shots (3) to lead a 71-68 Team Illinois win Monday in the Iowa-Illinois Senior All-Star Showcase.
Van Hyfte was at her best late in the thriller, too, scoring 15 second-half points, including a putback with 65 seconds remaining to give Illinois a 70-67 lead.
A crowd of 1,873 packed Augustana College's Carver P.E. Center for the 15th annual last blast for the top local high school 12th graders. The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus are an organizing sponsor.
"I'm just glad we won,'' Van Hyfte said about earning MVP honors. "I just wanted to do well as a team.
"This was great to win one more game for your state and home town in general.''
However, try as she might, there was no downplaying the impact of the Southern Illinois hoops-signed Van Hyfte.
Playing with a group that included AAU teammates Kristina Bozikovic (Moline) and Anna Wetherell (Alleman), plus Riverdale's Sydney Mericle (3 steals, 2 assists) and Illinois State softball signee Riley Strandgard (Sherrard), Van Hyfte led a 13-0, game-turning run early in the second half when Illinois went from down four points to leading by nine.
"That was one heck of a run,'' Van Hyfte said of that nearly 3-minute spurt. "But we did what we had to do and buckle down and play defense.
"We had a team full of athletes. It's great to know you can rely on so many people.''
All five players scored in the spurt, with Strandgard making the biggest hustle play, diving for a loose ball at midcourt and feeding Bozikovic for a layup.
Illinois never trailed again, winning the event for an 11th time and avenging a rare loss last season.
"That was a great play,'' Bozikovic said of Strandgard's heroics. "That just showed how much we wanted to win. We we wanted to finish our senior seasons strong with the best girls in the state.''
Van Hyfte's Annawan teammate, Megan Foes, was the only other Illinois girl scoring in double figures with 11 points and 4 steals.
Mississippi Athletic Conference Player of the Year Emily Clemens of Muscatine led Iowa with 18 points and 3 assists.
However, with a chance to tie twice, during two trips to the free-throw line in the final 38 seconds, the 84-percent shoooter missed three charity tosses to seal Iowa's fate.
Bozikovic, an equally lethal threat at the line, was fouled after Clemens' third miss with 6.2 seconds left.
Bozikovic hit the first charity toss for the final score, but missed the second, with a long rebound putting Iowa in scramble mode, and a desperation 3-point heave for a tie by Bettendorf's Liz Finn missed the mark.
"I'm surprised the second one didn't fall,'' said Bozikovic, who finished with 8 points. "You should have seen my face. But it worked out OK.''
Pleasant Valley's Sydney Dwyer (11 points) also scored in double figures for Iowa, which led by as many as seven points at halftime and trailed by as much as 10 points in the second half.
Rock Island's Shamia Clark added 9 points and 5 rebounds for Illinois, and Wetherell chipped in a game-high 4 assists during a contest with three ties and four lead changes.
"We all wanted to win the game, so we kept pushing it in to Celina and she made the difference. She's such a great player,'' said Strandgard, who contributed 6 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals.
"I had so much fun playing with these girls. There was so much talent on the floor and it was such a fun game.''
Halftime: Iowa 34-27. 3s: IL 6-20 (Foes 3-5, Parsons 1-4, Bozickovic 1-2, Clark 1-1, Morrisey 0-1, Wetherell 0-1, DeBrock 0-1, Mericle 0-2, Hoover 0-3), IA 9-25 (Dwyer 3-8, Garnica 2-2, Finn 1-5, Nelson 1-3, Schmidt 1-3, Clemens 1-2, Shoultz 0-2). Turnovers: IL 14, IA 21. Assists: IL 13 (Wetherell 4), IA 11 (Clemens 3, Reynolds 3). Steals: IL 14 (Foes 4), IA 11 (Finn 4). Blocked shots: IL 3 (Van Hyfte 3), IA 5 (several with 1).
3-point showdown (halftime of the girls' game)
-- Girls' first round (1 minute): *Sydney Dwyer, Pleasant Valley, 11; *Brooke Garnica, Davenport West, 11; Megan Foes, Annawan, 10; Emily Clemens, Muscatine, 9; Kristen Parsons, Wethersfield, 5; Shamia Clark, Rock Island, 5. (*-Top 2 advance to the finals).
-- Boys' first round (1 minute): *Dylan Sortillo, Bettendorf, 16; *Trey Sigel, Rock Island, 15; *Ethan Radue, Geneseo, 15; Cole Clearman, Bettendorf, 12; Trevor Lay, Wethersfield, 10; Trevor Bauer, Central DeWitt, 10.