Blinding snow squalls complete with thunder and lightning failed to deter the Byron faithful from making a 141-mile trek to cheer on their Lady Tigers at the Monmouth Super-Sectional Monday night.
But the orange and black backers could do little to help their team warm up offensively as Byron (31-3) fell to El Paso-Gridley (29-1) 49-39 making the 141-mile ride back home seem even longer.
Byron's first possession of the game, a missed trey followed later by a turnover, proved prophetic for the evening as El Paso jumped out to a 12-0 lead in the first 4 minutes of the game.
And the foul weather really turned foul for Byron when their 6'3" center, Sophie Reecher, was called for her second foul with 4:40 to play in the quarter.
With Reecher on the bench, Byron's 6'1" sophomore Ellie Lehne finally put her team on the scoreboard when she hit a jumper off an assist from Mayson Whipple.
But El Paso's Codee Schlipf, a 5'10" junior, quickly answered with a jumper of her own.
Lehne followed with a trey and another 2 while Ashley Dinges hit a jumper with 9 seconds to play to make it 14-9 at the end of the quarter.
A bucket by Brooke Holloway early in the second quarter pulled Byron within 3, 14-11, but that's as close as the Lady Tigers would get as El Paso expanded their lead to 25-13 off 5 Byron turnovers.
In the third quarter, Byron cut the lead to 4, 27-23, after 2 baskets by Reecher, but saw that rally end when she drew her fourth foul at the 1:43 mark.
El Paso led 33-25 at the end of the quarter and went on to add 16 points to Byron's 14 in the final quarter.
Lehne led Byron in scoring with 13 points and 8 rebounds followed by Reecher with 11 points and 7 rebounds. Mallorie Getzelman scored 6 points followed by Whipple with 3 and Brooke Holloway, Keelyn Swanson, and Dinges with 2 each.
As a team, Byron was 17-49 from the field, 2-19 for treys, and turned the ball over 16 times. Rebekah Ehresman led her team with 15 followed by Schlipf with 14, Jenna Souhrada with 8, Chelsea Kessinger 7, and Darien DeVary with 5.
El Paso was 18-42, converting 5-10 treys, with 13 turnovers. However, El Paso manufactured 18 of their points off of turnovers while Byron had 10 points off turnovers.
Byron edged El Paso 33-29 in rebounds.
El Paso faces Champaign (St. Thomas More) in the 8:15 p.m. semifinal of the state tournament Friday night at the Redbird Arena in Normal. St. Thomas More advanced to the final four by defeating Litchfield 75-36 at the Springfield Super-Sectional.
The other semifinal game, slated for 6:30 p.m., is Nashville versus Melrose Park (Walther Lutheran).
The championship game for Class 2A schools is Saturday at 8:15 p.m. Nashville beat Teutopolis 43-36 at the Salem Super-Sectional while Walther Lutheran beat South Holland (Seton Academy) 57-47 at the River Forest Super-Sectional.