When the girls basketball game between Hersey and Elk Grove began Wednesday night, Juliette Vainisi was not on the floor.
By game's end, she'd lit up the gym.
The 5-foot-7 junior guard came off the bench to toss home a career-high 18 points and tie a school record that had stood since 2004 (with 10 steals) as the Huskies rallied past the Grenadiers 55-43 at the Ken Carter Gymnasium in Arlington Heights.
"She was great," said Hersey coach Mary Fendley, whose team improved to 21-2 and 5-2 in the Mid-Suburban East. "Juliette bailed us out."
The Huskies were down 10-5 after one quarter and led 24-22 at intermission.
Vainisi scored 9 of her points in the second quarter when Hersey outscored the Grens, 19-12.
Her 10 steals, which tied the record of Shana Lieberman, helped spark the defense.
"I don't think we could have gotten the win without Juliette," Fendley added. "She got us going offensively and defensively. She was the story tonight."
Grabbing the headlines for Elk Grove (6-16, 1-6) was senior Melissa Solorio, who tossed home 25 points, one shy of her career-high 26 again Hoffman Estates.
"We had a hard time stopping her," Fendley said. "We tried a few different kids but we really didn't defend well."
Freshman Claire Gritt added 10 points for the Huskies while senior Renee Poulos chipped in 8 and freshman Casey Weyhrich 6.
Taylor Brown added 6 points for Elk Grove and Amber Lindfors 5.
Prospect 47, Buffalo Grove 31: Prospect (19-4, 5-2) celebrated senior night with a convincing victory over Buffalo Grove, which defeated the Knights 47-44 in first-round action of the Mid-Suburban East.
Seniors Marissa Pacini, Mallory Gonzalez and Shannon Koch (manager) were honored prior to the game.
"It was obviously an exciting night," said Prospect coach Ashley Graham, who will be part of another exciting night on Friday when retired Daily Herald sports department legend Bob Frisk receives his IHSA Distinguished Media Award in between the boys and girls basketball (vs. Hersey) games.
"I was obviously very happy for our seniors. They embody and epitomize everything I want from a Knights basketball player. They are great role models and great kids."
Junior Taylor Will (17 points), junior Catherine Sherwood (16 points) and freshman Haley Will (8 points) led the Knights' offense while Kimberly Herzog and Sammy Stejskal each had 7 points for BG (8-15, 1-6).
"I'm sure our kids have had this game marked on their calendar for quite some time (since BG loss in December)," Graham said. "I was proud of how they stayed with the game plan on offense and never let up on the defensive end."
After giving up 61 points in a loss to Wheaton-Warrenville South, Prospect has held its next three opponents to 38, 41 and 31 points.
"We've had our best three defensive efforts since the Wheaton-Warrenville South game," Graham said. "We weren't happy with our defense in that loss. The kids really made our defensive effort their theme and that's what they are living by."
Barrington 57, Hoffman Estates 29: Bailee McDonald (16 points, 4 rebounds), Angie Kirchoff (12 points) and Brooke Gunderson (12 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals), Megan Talbot (6 rebounds) and Aoife Callanan (5 assists) were top contributors for host Barrington (17-5, 6-1) in the MSL West.
"I thought Brooke played a very complete game," said Barrington coach Babbi Barreiro. "Aoife Callanan really passed ball well. Bailee had a nice game start to finish and Angie Kirchoff had a really nice performance, too."
Hoffman (4-16, 1-6) was led by Andrea Wolinski (9 points) and Mary Saitta (6).
Palatine 43, Schaumburg 34: Host Palatine was nursing a 28-26 lead when Bridget Ryan opened the fourth quarter with 8 consecutive points to help the Pirates steer clear.
"She was doing it offensively and defensively, and going to the rim," said Pirates coach Mark Johnson of the 5-5 senior guard. "She did a phenomenal job."
Also getting the job done scoring and rebounding was Monica Masini, who tossed in 13 points.
"She played great inside," said Johnson of the 6-foot junior who recently returned from ACL surgery. "She had a bunch of rebounds, altered shots in the middle and had an all-around nice game."
Morgan Radtke added 12 points for the winners.
Brittany Reinhart and Mallory Gerber paced Schaumburg (5-16, 2-5) with 11 points.
Rolling Meadows 52, Wheeling 38: Jenny Vliet (20 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists) and Jackie Kemph (18 points, 4 steals, 3 assists) led host Rolling Meadows (19-3, 7-0) in the MSL East.
Northwestern recruit Alexis Glasgow did not play for Meadows due to illness.
Senior Ashley Montanez grabbed 7 rebounds for the Mustangs who owned a 27-18 lead over Wheeling (11-12, 2-5) at half.
St. Viator 48, Regina 47 (OT): St. Viator (12-12) pulled out the nonconference win in OT when Kayne Stanley drove to the basket for 2 field goals and Erin Fabbri added 2 free throws with 30 seconds left.
Fabbri finished with a team-high 12 points, giving her 983 for her four-year career.
Stanley added 10 points while teammates Maddie McAteer, Susie Moynihan and Jessica Hohlweg each added 6.
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