McKenzie Wiedemann was playing with pain Tuesday night at Wheeling.
The Palatine senior guard had to wear a brace on her right knee due to a recent MCL sprain, while a bandage covered a bone bruise on her left knee suffered when, of all things, the brace banged against it during practice.
But despite not being 100 percent, Wiedemann was able to provide a spark.
The senior scored a team high 12 points, including three consecutive drving layups in the second quarter and a clutch 3-pointer in third as the visiting Pirates defeated the Wildcats 52-49 in a Mid-Suburban League crossover.
Six-foot-1 Palatine sophomore center Monica Masini matched Wiedemann with 12 points, including 2 huge free throws in the final minute.
"McKenzie's been out a couple of weeks due to the injury," said Pirates coach Leslie Schock, "so I thought tonight that she gave a tremendous effort on both ends of the court."
"I wasn't happy with our defense," added Schock, "but you have to give all the credit in the world to Wheeling. When they got the open shots, they were able to knock them down."
Wheeling fell short despite an incredible effort from sophomore guard Deanna Kuzmanic, who poured in a game-high 21 points (including three 3s) and grabbed 12 rebounds.
The Wildcats overcame a decided Palatine (6-1) height advantage to hold their own on the boards.
"Our kids battled," said Wheeling coach Julissa Hernandez. "We've been hit with quite a few injuries and illnesses early in the year and a lot of them are trying to find their roles -- but they stepped up tonight."
Wheeling (2-5) trailed throughout the fourth quarter but closed the gap to 50-49 after a long Kuzmanic 3.
Masini sank both ends of a 1-and 1 with 45 seconds left to stretch the lead to 3. The Wildcats had chances to tie in the final seconds but two 3-point attempts just rimmed out.
Theresa Godlewski and Brie Majkowski each scored 9 points for Wheeling, while 5-foot-5 guard Nia Pappas added 10 points and a couple of clutch rebounds in traffic in the final minute for Palatine.
Erin Mayer scored 8 points for the visitors while Morgan Radtke added 6.
"Our team's been working hard," said Wiedemann, one of five seniors on the Palatine roster. "I was a litte out of shape tonight (due to the knee sprain), so I've got to get back on track before Friday, when we play Fremd. They like to run the floor."
"We were able to keep our composure ," said Schock. "We've got a lot of veteran leadership on the floor and they know what it takes to win close games."