ADDISON – In a season that was already filled with what if moments, Addison Trail was forced to play its playoff opener without leading scorer James Pupillo.
The result was a 52-44 loss to North Lawndale in a regional quarterfinal on Monday.
Pupillo sat out the game with a back injury that had been bothering him for the past month.
"He's been playing the last month at about a 60 percent clip," AT coach Brendan Lyons said. "He's been trying to tough it out. It just got to the point where he was in a lot of pain and we decided last week it was just time to shut it down and let him get healthy."
Without Pupillo, the host Blazers, the No. 16 seed in the Bartlett sectional, hung with the No. 17 Phoenix for about two-and-a-half quarters before a 21-2 run gave North Lawndale a 45-25 lead. The Phoenix led 22-21 at halftime.
AT senior guard Ronald Duling led a comeback attempt in the fourth quarter by scoring 10 points as part of a 17-1 Blazer run to get within 50-44 in the final minute, but it wasn't enough. Duling finished with 20 points.
"If you look at our record, we ended up 11-18 and we thought we'd be the flip of that coming into this year," Lyons said. "I just think for our kids and our program and where they're at, there's one thing about all of them: they're good students. They're good people and they set a good example for our lower level kids in the program."
North Lawndale guard Fred Sims drained four 3-pointers during the Phoenix's big second half run. He led the team with 15 points. 6-foot-7 freshman Manny Patterson had a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds.