Coming off its first loss in 17 games this season, Rolling Meadows showed on Wednesday night what it learned from its first setback.
The Mustangs didn't panic despite scoring a season-low 17 points for one half against host Palatine.
Trailing 18-17 at intermission, Meadows took care of business in the second half and came away with a 46-37 triumph in the mid-week Mid-Suburban League girls basketball crossover.
Known for its stellar defense, coach Leslie Schock's Pirates didn't disappoint.
They held the defending MSL champs, who average 72 points per game, to their fewest points for a victory this season.
The Mustangs' previous lows came when they topped Elk Grove and Conant by scoring 59 points.
"They play tough defense," said Mustangs guard Jackie Kemph (4 steals, 4 assists, 2 rebounds), who still managed to drive her way to a game-high 23 points, including 15 in the second half with three 3-point plays. "We didn't hit a lot of shots, but their defense was tough."
"Palatine is a good team, one of the top defensive teams in the area and they are tough kids," said Mustangs coach Ryan Kirkorsky. "So we knew, playing a team that had won 16 games, we were going to have our work cut out."
Palatine (16-5) cut out its game plan perfectly in the first half as the Pirates built the lead to 16-9 when junior Erin Mayer hit a 12-footer midway in the second quarter.
Mayer finished with a career-high 15 points and 7 rebounds.
"Our team effort was incredible," Mayer said. "Our practices have been really intense and we came out with a lot of energy. We wanted to what we could do."
The Pirates showed they were on the floor to upset the Mustangs (17-1), who were ranked No. 3 this week in the season's first Class 4A state poll.
"Erin showed what she can do so that was really a bright spot," Schock said. "I'm super proud of all our kids. They played real hard. We got a little tired in the second half and made some mistakes. And when you do that against Rolling Meadows, you pay for it."
Meadows closed the first half with an 8-2 run, jump-started by Kemph's steal and layup.
Senior center Morgan Keller had a rebound layup during the rally and junior Alexis Glasgow (11 points, 3 rebounds, 2 steals) flipped a nifty pass to Ashley Montanez (4 points) for a layup that closed the deficit to 18-15.
Moments later, Kemph came up with another steal and layup to make it 18-17 at the break.
Montanez finished with 9 rebounds and teammate Jenny Vliet grabbed 8 rebounds along with 3 steals and 6 points.
"Ashley really brought a lot of energy," Kirkorsky said of his 6-foot-1 junior forward. "She was a force inside."
Mayer's layup off a pass from Morgan Radtke (6 rebounds, 5 points) gave Palatine its last lead at 20-17 to start the third quarter.
Glasgow fired home a 3-pointer to tie the game with 5:42 left in the period and the Mustangs got the lead for good on back-to-back fastbreak layups by Kemph for a 24-20 lead.
"We worked real hard all week on trying to keep Kemph away from the basket," Schock said. "It seems whenever they can get the rebound and get her the ball, they can score at will."
A 3-pointer by Kirsten Allen brought the hosts to within 24-23 but Kemph answered with back-to-back 3-point plays and lead the grew to 30-23.
"Even when Jackie is getting fouled, she will continue to go to the basket and make plays for herself and her teammates," Kirkorsky said.
Palatine never got closer than 5 the rest of the way.
Senior guard Nia Pappas, who had been sidelined for the Pirates' previous six games with an ankle injury, returned Wednesday. The IUPUI recruit handed out 5 assists.
Senior McKenzie Wiedemann chipped in 10 points and 3 rebounds for Palatine.
"I'm extremely proud of the girls," Schock said.
Kirkorsky was proud of his team's composure in the second half.
"The big thing we talked about was when we get down a few points, we can't panic and have to keep doing what we do and be fundamentally sound on the defensive end," he said.
"It was very important to get a win coming off that awful loss (52-43 to Montini, the top-ranked Class 3A team)," Kemph said. "We had a lot of practices to get ready for this game."