NORMAL — Even though she's only 5-foot-3, junior Teneil Robertson's days of staying under the radar of basketball's all-state selectors are over.
The bright lights of Redbird Arena revealed the point guard is a dribbling dynamo as she steered unranked Chicago Harlan High School past No. 4 Eureka, 55-50, in a Class 2A state semifinal despite 26 points, 13 rebounds and three steals from Hornet legend Tessa Leman.
Robertson finished with 16 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and three steals to snap Eureka's 19-game-winning streak and extend Harlan's streak to 13 ahead of Saturday's 7:15 p.m. title game against No. 9 Chicago Marshall (21-7).
"She's fun to watch; a great player," admitted Eureka coach Jerry Prina, whose 28-4 team faces No. 6 Teutopolis (28-7) for third at 5:30 p.m. Saturday. T-Town lost in double overtime to Marshall, 46-43.
"We tried to contain her. I thought we did a great job early on. She's a great competitor. She's very quick and speedy. She's able to change directions, but I don't think that hurt us."
What he thought hurt more was Daijahnay Winston chipping in 16 points including 10 during a 17-4 run in the third quarter to put the Lady Falcons up, 42-33. Eureka never got within three the rest of the way.
"Her ability to catch and shoot and spread us out (hurt)," Prina said. "It was the (seven) free throws late from Robertson that hurt us."
Besides passing to Winston, Robertson dished to Kimeira Burks (11 points) and Aquila Anderson (10).
"I've been saying this all year, I believe I have the best point guard in the state of Illinois," said Harlan coach Eddie Niles. "She knows how to read the defenses well. She'll do whatever we need. That's a D-I kid there."
A West Point recruit, Leman scored 19 points as the Hornets rushed to leads of 11-7, 22-15 and 26-21. Despite shooting .286 the first half, Eureka led at intermission, 26-23.
"It's very disappointing, obviously, as a competitor anytime you lose," Leman said. "It's a tough pill to swallow. I think being ahead at halftime and then losing it in the second half makes it more difficult."
A first-team all-stater, Leman was held to seven points the second half by a box-and-one defense.
"She had a phenomenal game the first half," Niles said. "I knew in the second half I was going to go box-and-one."
Leman finished 9 of 20 from the field and 7 of 7 at the free throw line. Her teammates combined to go 10 of 38 from the field (.263).
Leman ended a one-woman 8-0 run in the first half with back-to-back steal-and-layup combos. Harlan, however, wound up getting the best of a 19-14 difference in turnovers and outscored Eureka in points off turnovers, 17-8. The Lady Falcons also won at the free throw line, 13-8.
"Anytime you get beat you've got to give credit first to the team that beat you," Prina said. "They earned the right to move on."
The Hornets had a massive advantage in the stands and their fans roared when Olivet Nazarene recruit Natalie Bardwell drilled a 3-pointer to pull Eureka with 47-43 with 2:55 left.
"How about the hashtag Greenbird Arena?" quipped Prina. "We were able to paint Redbird Arena green. It was really impressive to see everybody support us."
Unfortunately, Bardwell finished 1 of 10 from 3-point range and 2 of 12 overall for five points, eight below her average.
"If a couple of those shots would have fallen, it probably would have changed the game a little bit," Bardwell said. "Some days you're just off and so tomorrow we'll come back ready to play."
Sophomore Natalie Anderson added eight points for Eureka and Lauren Ausmus had seven. A year ago, their opponent was scoring in Class 3A.
"We play a 3A-4A schedule," Niles said. "We play a lot of the toughest teams in the state and moving down to 2A we said we should make a good run. We're playing in the championship game tomorrow."