How nerve-wracking were the final minutes of Willowbrook's 58-56 victory over St. Charles East Tuesday night in the Class 4A Batavia regional semifinals?
"My hands are still shaking," Willowbrook sophomore Josie Zabran said moments following the Warriors' comeback from 9 points down to keep their season alive.
No. 6 seed Willowbrook (23-4) will play No. 3 Batavia (19-9) at 7 p.m. Thursday for the regional championship. Neither team has won a regional in awhile -- the Warriors since 1996 and Batavia 1990.
Zabran certainly didn't display her nerves on the court, scoring 15 of her career-high 21 points in the second half.
She came off bench in the team's first meeting, a 67-54 Willowbrook win.
"We didn't have an answer for No. 31 (Zabran)," Saints coach Lori Drumtra said. "She pretty much dominated in the paint. She's strong. She gets in there and she's kind of immovable."
Seven of those points came in the first four minutes of the fourth quarter when at one point the teams traded the lead five straight possessions.
Saints point guard Katie Claussner assisted Hannah Nowling and twice drove for baskets to give the Saints the lead each time only to see the Warriors respond with baskets from Lauren Carroll, Zabran and finally a putback from Sam Schmidt that put the Warriors ahead to stay at 46-45 with 4:52 left.
"Usually when one thing works for us we try to keep going to that," Zabran said.
The Warriors took their biggest lead at 52-47 when Olivia Domin rattled home her third 3-pointer.
The Saints clawed their back, capitalizing on 6 missed free throws and getting a clutch 3-pointer from Kyra Washington to pull within 57-56 with 12.6 seconds left.
Carroll split two free throws, and the Saints had a chance to tie but Claussner's baseline jumper hit off the rim in the closing seconds.
"We had our chances at the end of the game," Drumtra said. "Great first quarter and then it kind of stalled. I love how we came out. We have to maintain it longer than that. I'll be thinking about this one for a long time."
St. Charles East (13-14) got off to a fast start, leading 17-8 on Claussner's three-point play.
The Saints were still up 25-21 at halftime and 36-35 after three quarters, setting up the back-and-forth fourth quarter of a game with 15 ties or lead changes.
"We got ourselves in a hole," Willowbrook coach Terry Harrell said. "We didn't hit free throws (13 of 27). We played good enough defense. We took away their major threats in the second half."
Domin added 17 points for the Warriors, who outrebounded the Saints 35-27.
Claussner led all scorers with 22 points and had 5 assists while Washington scored 13 and Nowling had 12 points and 9 rebounds before fouling out.