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More times than not it takes seniors at least a few minutes to get over the jitters of Senior Night.
Not St. Edward's Katie Swanson.
Playing with an obvious purpose from the opening tip, Swanson scored a game-high 21 points to lead the Green Wave to a 56-46 win over Aurora Central Catholic in a Suburban Christian Blue girls basketball game in Elgin Friday night.
The win was the Green Wave's fifth straight and seventh in their last eight games. It was also St. Edward's final girls basketball game in the SCC, as the school will join the Metro Suburban Conference in the fall.
"I just figured it was a big game for us and we knew it would be a tough game," said Swanson, who scored 8 of her team's first 9 points and had 16 at halftime. "We knew it would be a physical game and we came out ready to play."
ACC's only lead of the game was 6-5 after a Natalie Droeske basket with 4:42 left in the first quarter. A Swanson 3-pointer sparked an 11-0 run that had the Chargers (11-13, 5-5) chasing the lead the rest of the night.
But chase ACC did.
Trailing 26-15 with 2:38 left in the first half, the Chargers finished the quarter on a 7-0 run to close to within 4, 26-22, at halftime.
Enter St. Edward senior Clarissa Ramos. With ACC clamping down its defense on Swanson, the 5-foot-10 Ramos took over the paint scoring 11 of her 16 points in the third quarter as the Green Wave (18-8, 7-2) were able to maintain a lead, albeit a slim one. ACC kept fighting back and used 2 3-pointers from sophomore Veronica La Via and one from sophomore Kalie Soris to stay in the game and trail just 41-37 after three quarters.
"They have good shooters," Swanson, who added 4 steals, said of the Chargers. "It was just a matter of playing defense and working our offense."
The Wave did that in the fourth quarter but didn't seal the win until the final 3 minutes.
ACC junior Gabi Alfaro's basket with 2:59 to play brought the Chargers to within 4, 50-46, but after two nonscoring changes of possession, Swanson made a free throw then took a give-and-go feed from junior CeCe Rapp and turned it into a 3-point play to give St. Edward a 54-46 lead with 1 minute left. Freshman Madelyn Spagnola made 2 free throws with 38 seconds left for the final margin.
Spagnola added 9 points and 4 assists for St. Edward and the 6-3 Rapp had 7 points and 11 rebounds. The Wave shot 19-for-38 for the night and outrebounded ACC 30-26.
"ACC was very aggressive tonight and gave us a good game," said St. Edward coach Michelle Dawson. "We've got to play to each other's strengths and that's what these girls have come a long way with this year. They're very unselfish."
LaVia had 11 points, Droeske added 10 and Alfaro had 9 for the Chargers, who host a Class 3A regional next week in which they play Hampshire on Monday night. St. Edward is the No. 2 seed behind Burlington Central in the ACC regional.
"We didn't get beat tonight we just didn't win," said ACC coach Mark Fitzgerald. "Our girls really fought and I'm proud of them. It's a great way to move into the playoffs. (St. Edward) presented us some matchup problems with their size but our girls were determined not to get blown out and to stay in the game.
"We've played tremendous the last 6-7 games and I think we're going to be a tough out in the playoffs."