When she got a steal with a half-minute left in Tuesday's contest with Byron, Aurora Christian's Alyssa Andersen wasn't thinking about legacies. The key was to get the ball, get to the basket and score.
That's what basketball players do -- they leave it to others to wax poetic on how it was appropriate that Andersen got the final points of the Eagles' season and in the last game of her career.
But from just a small distance after the end of the Class 2A Aurora Christian sectional semifinal -- which Byron won 62-26 -- it really was a nice cap to Aurora Christian's second consecutive season that included a regional title.
"Sitting on the bench in the third quarter, I was thinking ‘this is my last chance here,'" Andersen said. "All those hard years that I spent here. But it's been so great."
Andersen did admit that it was nice to score the final points of the game.
"I guess," Andersen said. "I kind of wasn't thinking about it. But Coach (Jerry Tokars) said like ‘how fitting that you scored the last points. That was nice."
Those regional titles in the last two seasons are the first and second such honors in school history.
"Coach definitely told us that we had a lot to be proud of," Andersen said. "Back-to-back and the only time we've won regionals. It might take a few days, but it's something to look back on and be proud of."
Tokars has been Aurora Christian coach for four seasons and has watched the core of the team progress and mature in that time.
"They have brought the program to the next level." Tokars said. "That's all down to them."
Although the game became very one-sided, Aurora Christian (15-14) opened the contest well and trailed only 13-8 midway through the second quarter. Despite a late Byron (28-3) blitz, the Eagles still trailed 28-14 at halftime and were within striking distance if they could find an early scoring burst.
"We were definitely pumped," Andersen said. "We came out thinking we didn't have anything to lose."
There was a scoring run in the third quarter -- but it was Byron's. The Tigers scored 21 straight points before Melissa Moser hit a turnaround jumper in the lane with 1:15 left in the quarter.
"We were down 14, but we've come back from even bigger leads," Tokars said of the halftime deficit. "The goal is to get a little momentum and maybe get them on their heels a little bit. But that didn't happen tonight."
Key in Byron's third quarter was Ellie Lehne. The junior scored 11 of her 15 points, many from close to the basket. Lexi DeVries also scored 15 points for Byron, but the top scorer for the Tigers was Mayson Whipple, who led all scorers with 18 points.
"She stepped up her game, and that's something you've got to give her credit for," Tokars said of Whipple.
Andersen and Moser each scored 8 points to lead Aurora Christian.
"I don't think we ever got on track offensively," Tokars said. "We didn't get the looks that we got the last couple of games, and quite frankly, most of the season, against their zone."
Byron faces Prophetstown, which eliminated Oregon 62-57 in Tuesday's first semifinal. The championship game is Thursday at 7 p.m.