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If it were easy, it just wouldn't be Addison Trail boys basketball.
The Blazers held off a fierce rally from District 88 rival Willowbrook to pull out Tuesday's 52-49 West Suburban Gold victory in Villa Park.
Addison Trail (9-18, 3-8) claimed a 13-point lead with 4:57 left on Joe Kurucar's third 3-pointer before Willowbrook (10-13, 3-8) came alive to make it a game. Not just a game, but a barnburner.
The Warriors entered the fourth quarter with only 22 points and then exploded for 27, including 26 in the final 5:47. Yash Trent's steal and basket followed by his tip-in narrowed the gap to 51-49 with 23 seconds left.
After the Blazers' Simon Jakubczak split a pair of free throws to boost the advantage to 52-49, Willowbrook missed a last-second 3-pointer that would have sent the game to overtime.
Not even a double-digit lead could prevent the Blazers from sweating out another win. They beat Hinsdale South on a last-second layup on Saturday and won their previous game on a three-quarter-court buzzer-beater.
"We like to make it exciting," said Blazers senior guard Jordan Garcia, who scored a game-high 22 points. "We just need to keep playing hard and take this into our last few games and the playoffs and see what we can do."
For a few minutes in the fourth quarter the teams merely traded points, which was fine with Addison Trail. Quickly, though, Willowbrook's press and trap defense took its toll while creating 8 fourth-quarter turnovers.
A 10-3 run was capped by Tiger Greene's steal and hammering dunk that sliced Willowbrook's deficit to 49-45. Another steal led to a chance for the Warriors to come closer, but they missed a shot under the basket.
It continued a tale of missed opportunities for Willowbrook, which made 7 of 16 free throws and managed only 1 second-quarter point. The Warriors led 13-7 at the end of the first quarter, but then Addison Trail held them without a field goal for 10 minutes.
"We didn't get going until six minutes to go in the fourth quarter," said Willowbrook coach Chris Perkins. "We talk about starting strong, finishing strong. But it doesn't click in until the end of the game."
Greene led Willowbrook with 14 points and Trent added 12. The Blazers' Taylor White came off the bench to score 10 points.
"You look up there and I said to my assistant with four minutes to go, 'This clock's just not moving fast enough,'" said Addison Trail coach Brendan Lyons. "We just weren't getting that slam-the-door-type run to kind of seal it."
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