As a senior, Addison Trail's Nicci Scorza understood very well what was at stake in Monday's Class 4A Addison Trail girls basketball regional quarterfinal.
"My mindset was knowing that I'm a senior and I do not want this to be my last game," Scorza said. "Especially knowing that we played West Chicago before and lost to them but I didn't play. We were ready to go. We knew what they were going to do. We knew what they were going to throw at us. I just gave it my all."
Scorza poured in 22 points and grabbed 5 rebounds and 2 steals with her usual all-out effort, leading the Blazers to a 49-39 victory against West Chicago.
"It's been all year. It's been all year," Blazers coach Rob Schader said of his senior averaging nearly a double-double this season.
The Blazers will be back at it Tuesday night when they host Glenbard West, the sectional's third seed, in a 6 p.m. semifinal.
The 15th-seeded Blazers led by 4 late in the third quarter when senior Vincenza Zaccaro and junior Joanna Garay popped in back-to-back 3-pointers to bump the margin to double digits for the first time. The Blazers (10-16) took off from there.
"At halftime we knew we had a 4-point lead so we just took that and we ran with it. We knew we had to keep the lead because third quarters usually aren't our strongest quarters so we knew we had to turn that around and play as hard as we can in the third quarter," Scorza said.
The lead peaked at 16 points before West Chicago narrowed the margin in the final minutes.
Garay and junior Serena Gilliam added 8 points apiece for the Blazers.
"I thought Berenice (Berumen) did a real good job defensively for us," Schader said of the senior who rolled her ankle in the fourth quarter.
It was a tough end to the season for the Wildcats.
"I think turnovers and missed layups again the story of the season," West Chicago coach Dan Vashinko said. "That came back to hurt us again. We tried fixing that stuff all year, but at the end of the day that's the thing that kills us in games."
Seniors Sofia Radice and Sierra Koenig led the Wildcats (6-20), the 20th seed, in scoring, as usual, tallying 14 points apiece.
"We buckled down on defense in the fourth quarter," Schader said. "(Radice) is tough. She's been out there for three years now. We kind of shut her down a little bit in the fourth quarter, which helped us out."
"Without them," Vashinko added about Koenig and Radice, pausing to find the words. "It would be tough without those two. They're tough. They play whole games. They barely get any rest. They just grinded out the whole season. I couldn't say more about those two. They're just the two workhorses that carried us through the whole year."