They put the back-to-back blowout losses behind them. Ditto for the sluggish opening quarter against Antioch Thursday night.
And maybe even better for Mundelein's Mustangs? They've put last season's 2-win campaign behind them.
Take their 72-56 win over host Antioch.
"You got to give credit to (Antioch) for getting up early, but we knew that if we came together we'd score and get back in the game," Mundelein junior forward Jeff Bikus said. "It's a different attitude this year."
The Mustangs had to work on that attitude after ending their Thanksgiving tournament last weekend with ugly losses to Warren (75-59) and Fremd (75-30). Three practices later, they were ready to show that, yes, they're a better basketball team this season,
"It was effort," Mundelein coach Corey Knigge said. "It started in practice the last few days. Last weekend was rough, and we regrouped."
Tommy Marcotte led the way for Mundelein (2-3) with 18 points, 7 rebounds and 4 steals. James Willman had 16 points (four 3-pointers), Nick Parmley added 15, and the 6-foot-6 Bikus finished with 14 points and 9 rebounds.
Kyle Enright (6 points) knocked down two of the Mustangs' eight 3-pointers.
"We just went out in practice all week and got after it, and that carried over to the game," Marcotte said. "Our defense was much better, and I think that helped us a lot."
Reece Eldridge led Antioch (1-3) with 13 points, 5 blocks and 4 rebounds, despite fouling out with 5:43 left in the fourth. The Sequoits shot just 12 of 31 (39 percent) from the foul line and committed 23 turnovers.
"Those (missed free throws) are like turnovers for us," Antioch coach Jim White said. "Not that we did much else good. We laid an egg. This was, by far, our worst outing. We didn't maintain our discipline that we've been playing with."
Ben Gutke came off the bench for Antioch to score 11 points, including a 3-pointer, and Sequoits sophomore Daniel Filippone had 10 points, including a 3.
Eldridge's layup had Antioch up 15-9 after one quarter, but Parmley opened the second with a 3-pointer, and Corey Novander's drive capped a 14-5 run that put Mundelein ahead 23-20. The Mustangs built their lead to six and went into halftime up 29-28.
The sweet-shooting Willman took over in the third, hitting four 3-pointers in as many attempts. His teammates had seen that kind of shooting from the 6-3 guard before.
"In the summer, sometimes he's hit seven 3s in one game," Marcotte said. "We know to find him."
"When he's hot, he's hot," Bikus said. "We look for him every time he gets hot."
Up 46-44 after three, Mundelein took its lead to double digits in the fourth. The Mustangs sank 15 of 20 free throws in the quarter and, for the game, went 22 of 29 from the stripe.
Their schedule gets tough again, however, as they open North Suburban Conference play next week with games against Zion-Benton and Stevenson.
"We got to keep after it mentally," Knigge said. "We got some talent. Now we just got to get over the hump of staying consistent with effort and know that we can beat anybody we step on the floor with. We don't hide from it. We've had a rough couple of years here. When you don't have success and things start to go bad, you revert to 'Here we go. This is going to be bad for us.' Tonight I was happy because that didn't happen."