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Trinity’s Taylor Nazon celebrated more than just her 18th birthday Saturday.
The Loyola-bound senior guard had 18 points, five assists, five rebounds and three steals and was serenaded by her teammates and fans after the No. 5 Blazers rolled to an impressive 85-60 victory over visiting Hillcrest in River Forest.
Nazon and her teammates awed the crowd and a television audience with a virtuoso performance featuring great passing and shooting and shredded No. 19 Hillcrest’s vaunted press with surprising ease.
“[My teammates] told me they were going to come out and get a win for me, so I’m very excited,” Nazon said. “I couldn’t ask for anything more. It was a great birthday gift.”
Nazon wasn’t the only one receiving gifts. The Blazers (12-2) took turns handing out assists to each other, moving the ball around to find open shots, which they hit with great frequency.
Trinity made 31 baskets, 26 of which were assisted, including the first 10 and 14 of 15 in the first half, which ended with the hosts ahead 39-31. Lauren Prochaska and Shannon McGinnis led the way with six assists each, while freshman Annie McKenna added four and sophomore Patricia Stritzel had two.
“We usually are a very unselfish, very good passing team,” Nazon said. “This game it just stood out more because we were hitting the shots. That does not always happen, but everybody stepped up big. I’m really proud of our young kids. First time on TV and they did really well.”
One of those youngsters was sophomore Mary Dillon, who sank three three-pointers in the second quarter, one of which she banked home, and finished with 12 points and three steals. McKenna sank two treys and scored 10 points.
“We had some difficulty getting back on defense,” Hillcrest coach John Maniatis said. “That’s something that we’re going to have to work on.
“But they’re a great team and they had a great game plan. They had great spacing on the floor. They did a great job of getting shots off and even when they were missing they were banking them in off the window.”
Hillcrest (12-4) scored the first basket but the Blazers used a 9-0 run to take a 12-4 lead. Dillon’s last trey gave Trinity a 37-23 lead.
The Hawks closed within six at the half but could get no closer as McGinnis and Prochaska began the third quarter with layups. Prochaska had six points, three steals and three assists in the period as the Blazers stretched their lead to 61-44 before pouring it on in the fourth quarter.
“We knew we had to come out really aggressive because they’re an aggressive team,” said Prochaska, who had a game-high 20 points to go along with seven steals. “We knew we had to come out and play our fast pace. We’ve really been working on pushing the ball and I think the fast pace and the energy of the crowd really just fueled us. We just ran with it.”
Despite playing without three of its top seven players due to injury, Trinity placed five players in double figures as McGinnis tallied 12 points to go with nine rebounds. Stritzel added eight points, including two of her team’s 11 three-pointers.
“I thought we wore down Hillcrest,” Trinity coach Ed Stritzel said. “They are athletic but I knew that we had the depth and we were going to continue running with them. Our spacing was great and Lauren just handled all sorts of pressure non-stop. We’re happy with that.”
Mariam Awoniyi led the Hawks with 19 points and seven rebounds. Dana Gettis added 15 points on 5-for-19 shooting and Shayla Joyner had seven points and eight rebounds off the bench.