Senior Night for the La Salle-Peru girls basketball team Tuesday against Princeton meant more than just celebrating the careers of the team’s five seniors.
It meant the red and green made it to nine wins (9-12) with its 47-29 victory over the Tigresses — a feat the Lady Cavaliers haven’t accomplished since 2006-07.
It meant L-P won three games in a row, including victories over Streator, Kaneland — a feat L-P coach Hollis Vickery said was rare.
And for senior guard Mia Porter, it meant she put a smile on the face of a loved one in a difficult situation.
“My emotions were running high,” Porter said. “My dad recently got into a car accident. He’s been down in Peoria and really I wanted to play this game for him. He was unable to be here, but really I played this game for him and it was great to win.
“I know I made him proud.”
Doug Porter has every right to be proud since his daughter led the Lady Cavs with 11 points against Princeton.
She not only scored, but made sure to play on both sides of the court for him as she had two steals and two blocked shots.
“I think our full court 1-3-1 was really good. We did good with the traps and good closing out,” Porter said. “Our man-to-man defense was phenomenal.”
Senior guard Brittany Zawacki also was a handful for Princeton as she dropped 10 points and had two steals of her own. The senior backcourt hit all of L-P’s four 3-pointers with Porter knocking down three and Zawacki sinking one.
Princeton was led by seven points by both senior forward/center Emmalee Sears and junior forward/center Kelly Schmidt.
Three Tigresses pulled down five or more rebounds with Sears leading the way with a game-high eight, while senior forward Makenzey Wilson added six and junior forward Zoe Mead had five.
Zawacki said her team was ready for the game because of the hot streak they’ve been on and the opportunity to win more games than many previous Lady Cavalier squads.
“It makes us feel really good knowing we’ve came a long way with this program and been able to win more games than in the past,” Zawacki said. “It’s nice to be on a winning team (in terms of the program’s record) and we’ve all had a lot of fun working together to make it work.”
Together was the keyword against the Tigresses as seven other Lady Cavs put points on the board, including two of the other five seniors — forward Brianna Argubright, who scored four points and grabbed five rebounds, and guard Christine Olson, who tallied three points.
Senior center Nicole Merdian grabbed three rebounds.
“We scored a lot of points and got a lot of people involved,” Vickery said. “We sent the seniors off with a win. It was our third (win) in a row. We’re starting to gain steam. We’re at win No. 9, which is for the program lately, pretty good. We plan to keep it going. We’ve had excellent senior leadership the last two weeks and that’s been part of the reason for our turnaround.”
Vickery added Porter, Zawacki and Argubright took accountability for the entire team stepping up emotionally and socially to make this team an actually team.
The togetherness of the squad and the senior leadership is exactly why Porter thinks the Lady Cavs could conquer its mission.
“I think we can go far. If we work hard at it, I think we can go as far as we want to as long as we believe that we can,” Porter said. “The (most wins) here (since 2006-07) is 11 wins, so our goal is to get to 11, but to get to nine is great for us.”
Brandon LaChance can be reached at 220-6939, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_LaChance.