For most students at Quartz Hill High, final exams don't begin until Monday.
But that isn't the case for players on the school's softball team, who spent the past week surviving one test after another and on Tuesday advanced to their first Southern Section final in seven years.
"This kind of final is much better," pitcher Jodie Cox said after Quartz Hill upset third-seeded Jurupa Valley, 3-2, in a Division II semifinal before an overflow crowd at Lancaster City Park.
The Rebels (23-3-2) will meet fourth-seeded Cerritos (25-5), a 2-1 winner over defending champion Irvine Woodbridge, either Friday or Saturday at Mayfair Park in Lakewood.
Quartz Hill's only other championship-game appearance came in 1991, when it lost to La Mirada in the 3-A Division title game.
In traditional finals-week form, the Rebels passed their most recent test by cramming right at the end.
The Rebels scored twice in the bottom of the seventh inning to overcome a 2-1 deficit.
Jamie Booth's single drove in Amber Slaton from third base with the game-winning run.
"I could feel my heart pounding," said Booth, a sophomore designated hitter whose one-out ground ball up the middle eluded a drawn-in Jaguar infield. "But I just knew I had to get a hit."
Booth's hit came after Sara Moore drove in pinch runner Katie Patison with the tying run, chopping a Wendy Stephens pitch over the third baseman's head for an infield single.
"We're a fighting team and we don't ever give up," said Moore, who was four for four, improving to seven for 15 in the playoffs.
Cox had three hits and improved her pitching record to 21-3 by striking out nine and allowing six hits. Slaton and Andrea Cabriales each added two singles for Quartz Hill, which had 13 hits.
The Rebels have received key contributions from different players throughout the playoffs.
In a quarterfinal on Saturday, Cox hit a two-run triple in the 14th inning to spark a 2-0 upset second-seeded Santa Maria Righetti.
Four days earlier, it was a run-scoring single by Penny Wood that gave the Rebels a 1-0 victory over Hart.
"We could have given up real easy a couple of times [in the past week]," Co-Coach Coy Ray said. "But this team has too much heart."
Added Cox: "It was just a matter of who was going to come through this time."
Moore singled home Cox in the fifth to give the Rebels a 1-0 lead. But Jurupa Valley (25-5) answered with an unearned run in the sixth--ending Cox's streak of consecutive scoreless innings at 54 2/3--and another in the top of the seventh to take a short-lived lead.