Working on game situations in practice turned out to be a huge difference for Mundelein's girls basketball team in its second game of the season.
The Mustangs squandered a 17-point second-quarter lead and fell behind by 5 points in the fourth quarter. But they recovered in the final four minutes for a 57-56 victory over Prairie Ridge in the Mundelein Turkey Tournament on Tuesday night.
Jamie Hemmer and Lauren Rouse each scored 10 points for Mundelein (2-0), while Natalie Busscher chipped in 9. Maggie Mahar had a key block late and knocked down the winning free throw with 18 seconds remaining.
"We do a lot of situational stuff in practice," Mahar said. "We do a lot of focusing on being down with a few minutes to go. It was helpful to practice that. We came out on the floor and everybody knew what they were doing."
Mundelein may be on the young side, but the Mustangs have several girls who played varsity last season. That experience paid off against Prairie Ridge (1-1).
"Last year, we would have lost that game," Mundelein coach Brian Evans said. "I'm happy that we won it. Every day (in practice), we do three-minute segments on situational stuff -- like being down by 4 with three minutes to go, each team has one timeout, and each team is in the bonus.
"We tell the girls that free throws, layups and shots in the lane win games. Give credit to Prairie Ridge."
Prairie Ridge trailed 26-9 but tied the game early in the fourth quarter. The Wolves took a 50-45 lead on Sarah Kilhoffer's 2 free throws.
But Hemmer scored 4 of her 6 fourth-quarter points during a 7-0 run, giving Mundelein a 52-50 lead with 2:55 left.
"We pulled together as a team to pull it out," Hemmer said. "We slowed it down and ran our offenses. My teammates help me get open a lot. The opportunity just was there."
The Wolves had one last shot with a 3-point attempt, which was off the mark as time expired.
"We changed our defense and played more man-to-man," Prairie Ridge coach Rob Baker said. "That helped us out a lot. (Mundelein) started missing some shots and we started making them. We started to take care of the basketball. That's what hurt us at the end. Give (Mundelein) credit at the end. They made some nice plays. We just made some silly mistakes."