A steal and layup in the closing seconds of Saturday’s Girls Catholic Athletic Conference (Red) Championship by Taricka Linzy led the Trinity basketball team to a 39-36 victory and the program’s third conference title since 2007.

Before the layup, Linzy, who had been plagued with foul trouble for much of the game, also found Megan Podkowa underneath the basket for a quick score. The basket put the Blazers (24-3) up 37-34. Linzy finished with eight points and four assists, while Podkowa and Taylor Nazon each scored 13 points apiece. Podkowa, Trinity’s junior center, scored seven in the second quarter to keep the Blazers within two, 23-21, at halftime. She also finished with seven rebounds and five blocks.

Divinity Brown held Loyola’s top player Katie Faught to just 10 points in the game.

Podkowa scored 21 points, including 10 in the opening quarter, to lead Trinity past St. Joseph in the semifinal on Friday. Taylor Nazon added 17 points for the Blazers, who opened up the tournament by chewing up Regina 66-16. Podkowa scored 14 points, while Nazon chipped in 13 in that win.

“It was a special victory for our school,” said Trinity head coach Ed Stritzel of the win over Loyola. “Trinity is humbled to win the GCAC Red Championship three out of the last five years and very proud of the fact that Trinity has been in the championship game for the last five years. We are ecstatic with our consistency.”

The Blazers were scheduled to close out the regular season with non-conference games against Marian Catholic (Feb. 8, after deadline) and Marist (Thursday) this week.

“We have played or will play 13 teams that are either in the current Top 25 rankings or have been in the rankings,” said Stritzel as his team gears up for the upcoming playoffs. “Our schedule has prepared us for battles ahead.”

Trinity, which has moved from Class 3A to Class 4A this season, hosts its own regional beginning next week. The third-seeded Blazers in the York Sectional will take on the winner of Elk Grove Village and Glenbard East on Tuesday night (6 p.m.). They’ll face either West Chicago or York in the regional title game on Feb. 17 (7:30 p.m.).

The Blazers will likely have to get past fifth-ranked Bartlett in the York Sectional semifinal. Trinity lost to the Hawks 51-50 in the Naperville Thanksgiving Tournament. The competition is likely not to letup from there, as No. 1 seed and cross-town rival Fenwick is expected to be waiting in the sectional title game on Feb. 24.

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Brad Spencer

Brad Spencer has been covering sports in and around Oak Park for more than a decade, which means the young athletes he once covered in high school are now out of college and at home living with their parents...