With a big test against state power Rolling Meadows this Wednesday, Palatine's girls basketball team had a warm-up exam on Saturday afternoon in Roselle.
The Pirates passed with a 47-22 triumph over Lake Park in the nonconference event.
Now they will review for the explosive Mustangs.
"Defense will be the key," said Palatine's McKenzie Wiedemann, who helped trigger the Pirates' defense on Saturday with 5 steals along with her team-high 13 points and 3 assists. "They (Meadows) are averaging 72 points a game. So that will be our biggest motivation."
Palatine, allowing 36.6 points per game, is one of the top defensive teams in the area.
The Pirates showed that Saturday, limiting the Lancers to under double digits in each of the final three quarters.
"It's always tough coming back after the layoff after the new year," Wiedemann said. "But we've been practicing well and prepare for everyone like it's a big game. We knew we had to be ready. We didn't want to lose."
The Pirates improved to 16-4 as sophomore Monica Masini (12 points), junior Morgan Radtke (8) and junior Erin Mayer (8) led the balanced offense.
A free throw by sophomore Maria Zepeda gave Lake Park (0-20) an 11-10 lead with 2:16 left in the first quarter.
But the Pirates kicked into gear with a 16-3 run to close out the first half and led 27-13 at the break.
Wiedemann's 3-pointer made it 16-11 after one quarter.
The Pirates started the second quarter with a 6-0 run, getting two inside baskets from Mayer and a layup by Masini for a 22-11 lead.
"You could tell in the first quarter we were not reacting as quickly as we should have been," said Palatine coach Leslie Schock. "I was a little concerned that we were going to be a little flat. But then we picked it up toward the end of the first quarter."
The Pirates picked up plenty of rebounds, with Masini and Mayer grabbing 9 apiece and Radtke 7.
"Obviously. they're a good team," said Lancers coach Andrea Miller. "Their No. 44 (Masini) and 23 (Wiedemann) did a nice job.
"I thought our kids came out and played hard. The one thing we talked about is no matter what the score was, we wanted to be playing hard. We just struggled putting the ball in the basket."
Lancers starter Sam Cummings missed her third straight game.
Miller said the 5-foot-11 senior forward has a deep quad contusion injury.
Senior Tyshai Freeman led the Lancers with 11 rebounds.
Zepeda had 4 rebounds and 2 blocked shots while teammate Jen Warfield collected 3 rebounds and 3 blocked shots.
"I've been in their position before (trying to get wins) and that's tough," Schock said. "Obviously their coach is doing a good job keeping them motivated and playing real hard."
The Pirates have been playing hard the last six games (5-1) despite losing standout guard Nia Pappas (IUPUI recruit) due to a an ankle injury.
Pappas remains questionable for Wednesday's game against Meadows.
Radtke and Wiedemann have been sharing Pappas' point guard duties.
"It's opened up a lot of things we can do that I didn't know about," Schock said of Pappas' absence from the lineup. "Maybe Nia could even play a '2' guard."
Wiedemann says her new position at point is definitely a challenge.
"Morgan and I go back and forth playing it," Wiedemann said. "I'm glad my teammates trust me to bring the ball up the court. It's a little nerve-wracking because I don't want to make a mistake."
The Pirates will try to limit mistakes on Wednesday.
"Now we've got to prepare for Rolling Meadows," Wiedemann said. "They are one of the best teams we'll see."
Schock liked what she saw from Wiedemann on Saturday.
"I thought McKenzie had a great game, offensively and defensively," she said. "And the same for our two posts (Masini and Mayer). Everyone played solid."