ELDRIDGE — For North Scott's last two state title runs, Sam Scott was a key part of the success, but not the star.
Now in her senior year and looking for one more trip to Des Moines for the Class 4A state girls basketball tournament, it's Scott's time to shine.
And boy did she ever Saturday night.
Scott poured in a career-high 22 points — including six 3-pointers — and added four rebounds, four assists, three steals and two blocked shots to lead the No. 6 Lancers to a 64-44 win over Keokuk in a Class 4A regional semifinal at The Pit.
North Scott (14-2) hosts Fairfield in a regional final Tuesday at 7 p.m.
"It's a key on our team to have good leadership and I think a couple of us seniors have really stepped up and that helps us a lot," Scott said. "It just helps the other ones look up to us, keeps us calm and helps us win games like that."
It was a performance the North Scott coaching staff had been waiting for after Scott averaged 8.5 points per game in the regular season.
"I could tell in the last couple days, she'd been showing a lot of leadership and she wasn't going down without a fight here," North Scott coach TJ Case said. "I think she understands what our program has been through and she's been a part of it. I think this is in a role she wants and she's wanted and so I'm super happy for her and ... I try not to put a lot of pressure on her, play through as many girls as we can, but we're going to lean on our seniors."
Along with Scott, fellow senior Ashley Fountain added 11 points, eight rebounds and six assists while sophomore Hattie Hagedorn contributed 11 points and five assists.
Ball movement was key all night for North Scott, with 20 assists on 22 made shots.
"We're just a tight-knit team and we know where everyone's going and when they're going and we have our eyes up and we're passing right away," Hagedorn said. "We're going to get that pass instead of shooting, 100% all the time."
Hagedorn hit the first shot of the game 20 seconds in, sparking a 16-0 run that had the Lancers well in control from the jump.
However, thoughts of a breeze into the regional final were put on hold as Keokuk battled back, taking advantage of some missed layups by North Scott to cut the lead to 30-22 at halftime.
But Scott opened up the third quarter with a 3, then hit another one after a four-point Keokuk run to put North Scott up 35-26, and the Lancers outscored the Chiefs 29-18 the rest of the way.
"We know we have to control what we can control in the game," Scott said. "They tended to speed us up a little bit, but we know we can calm it down and take control back and that really helped us."
Along with effective ball movement, North Scott also outrebounded Keokuk 28-13 — 10-2 in the second half — and forced the Chiefs into making 13 turnovers.
The Lancers also held Keokuk's Abby Wolter, who entered the game averaging 20.1 points, to just 13 points on 4 of 11 shooting from the field. Kayde Martin led the 11-8 Chiefs with 15 points.
"You know our motto, we're not going to let your No. 1 beat us," Case said.
With so much lost from last year's undefeated state title team, this was a huge confidence boost to the Lancers. Two sophomores and one freshman were in the starting lineup and of the 11 players to see the floor, just five are seniors.
"We're ready for anyone," Hagedorn said. "This just boosted our confidence even more."