Warren's Blue Devil Classic didn't end the way Carmel Catholic senior center Kayla Quinn would have preferred, but it wasn't all bad.
Heck, Quinn couldn't help but smile when studying the all-tournament trophies that she and teammate Claire Ogrinc received.
"They're girls," Quinn said with wide eyes of the bronze-colored basketball players, which featured long hair, on the trophies. "Normally they're boys."
This was good, too, for Carmel: Despite Wheeling winning 40-36 in Saturday night's tournament finale, the Corsairs won the championship.
Carmel (11-5 overall) and Palatine both went 4-1 in the tourney, but the Corsairs were declared the champion based on their 45-36 over Palatine on Wednesday. Wheeling (8-12), Warren and Grayslake Central all went 3-2 in the tourney.
"It was nice to make it into the winners pool because we hadn't done that in three years," Wheeling coach Julissa Hernandez said. "It was a nice finish."
It was a great way to finish the first half of the season for a Wildcats team that has lost senior Jessi Zuba and, most recently, junior Caitlyn Slussar to ACL injuries and sophomore Hailey Dammeier to a broken leg.
"We're battling a lot of adversity, but the girls are pulling through," Hernandez said.
Wheeling built a 12-8 lead on Carmel after one quarter and went into the locker room up 26-19 after 5-foot-3 Gianna Calistro hit a foul-line jumper over a much-taller defender in the closing seconds.
Wheeling sophomore Deanna Kuzmanic scored 9 of her game-high 18 points in the second quarter.
With her team needing a spark after halftime, Quinn delivered. She hit her first 3 shots of the second half, and Carmel was suddenly back in the game.
"I was fired up," said Quinn, who finished with 6 points and 5 rebounds. "I wanted to get the momentum going."
Carmel took a 28-27 lead on Ogrinc's 3-pointer. But Wheeling was back in front 32-31 heading into the fourth after sophomore Hannah Dobrowski ended the third by dribbling the length of the court and finishing a drive.
The Wildcats eventually finished off the game thanks to 2 free throws by Dobrowski with 35.5 seconds to go.
Ogrinc led Carmel with 15 points, while Leah Lach had a double-double of 10 points and 13 rebounds.
"I think we came out a little slow, but we turned it up once we realized what we could do," Ogrinc said. "We slowed it down on offense a lot and held them to (6) points in the third quarter. We kicked up our defense a little bit to help us get more opportunities on offense, and that really helped us."
Kuzmanic and senior forward Brie Majkowski (12 rebounds) represented Wheeling on the all-tournament team.
"It was definitely a battle," Hernandez said. "I think the girls stuck with the game plan, and they never lost their poise."