The Montini Christmas Tournament is probably the toughest in the state.
And Rolling Meadows' girls basketball team showed how tough it is.
Going up against the high-pressure defense from 11-1 Kenwood Academy and having a 10-point lead wiped out in the third quarter, the Mustangs recovered smartly for a 47-40 victory in its first-round game.
Meadows (10-3) advanced to Wednesday's 3 p.m. quarterfinal against Evanston (12-0).
"It was a tough game," said Mustangs senior guard Kyra Spiwak, who scored a game-high 23 points, including 16-of-19 free throws, a 3-pointer and a pair of 2-point field goals. "There were trying to rush us and close the passing lanes but we stayed composed and ran good plays.
"We got the ball down to Katherine (Nolan) and Morgan (Campagna) and they finished."
Nolan finished with 10 points and Campagna 8 while teammates Clare Preissing, Melissa Spiwak, Alexa Davis, Kelsey Nallon, Caili Hosler and Lily Greifenstein all helped out on both ends of the floor.
"We tried to rush them but they did a good job moving the ball around," said Kenwood coach Andre Lewis. "Unfortunately, they caught us out of position and made it hard for us to recover."
The Mustangs had to recover from a 10-0 run by the Broncos that tied the game at 26-26 with 3:26 left in the third quarter.
Kyra Spiwak's 3-point play made it 29-26 but sophomore Ania Wellere came right back with a 3-pointer to tie the game at 29-29.
Nolan's rebound layup made it 31-29 before Kenwood tied it again on a basket by junior Destiny Franklin.
The Mustangs, though, were able to get the lead for good as Melissa Spiwak jump-started a 6-0 run with a 15-footer off an assist from Nolan.
"Melissa was an impact player for us on both ends of the floor," Kirkorsky said. "She was huge for us today."
Melissa's basket made it 33-31 after three quarters and the Mustangs scored the first 4 points of the final quarter with a 15-footer from Campagna and 2 free throws by Kyra Spiwak.
Kenwood got as close as 3 points (41-38) on a driving layup by sophomore Shania Jackson with 2:14 left.
But Meadows closed the game with a 6-2 run getting all its points on 4 free throws from Kyra Spiwak and two from Nolan with 3.8 seconds left.
"I think this game showed how much we've grown as a team," said Nolan, who will play at Loyola University next season. "I think that's what helped us pull it out after they came back to tie it."
"They're (Kenwood) super talented and a quick team," said Meadows coach Ryan Kirkorsky. "We told our kids they had to trust their discipline and their first habits which we work on every day."
Kyya Spiwak and Nolan also played with four fouls in the fourth quarter.
"We've been in that situation before," Kirkorsky said. "And I thought they showed maturity there and were smart in how they played the game."
A game in which the Mustangs made 22 of 29 free throws.
"We practice them every day and even have a drill where we have to make them in game-like situations" Kyra Spiwak said.
Lewis was impressed by Meadows' overall effort.
"I thought they did a really good job of executing," he said. "That No. 32 (Nolan) moves real well. She relieves a lot of the pressure for them. She plays smart and sound basketball."