Eventually, Palatine was going to get comfortable on the court, even if senior standout Nia Pappas was still uncomfortably sidelined with a bad left ankle.
Thursday night the Pirates looked much more comfortable, and they did so at the expense of host Warren at the Blue Devil Holiday Classic.
Playing their second game in as many nights without Pappas, who injured her left ankle in a win over Deerfield on Saturday, the Pirates bounced back from the disappointment of Wednesday night’s loss to Carmel with a 38-34 hard-fought win over the host Blue Devils.
Palatine (13-4) finished second in its pool and will play Wheeling at 6 p.m. Friday night. Warren (7-7) ended up 1-2 in pool play and will face Niles North at 4:30 p.m.
“I think with every game we get used to Nia not being out there, we will get a little more comfortable,” said Palatine coach Leslie Schock. “Then we will be better with our guard rotation and leadership roles.”
Even as the Pirates continue to get more comfortable, they still had a few moments of discomfort as they trailed Warren 17-16 at halftime.
“I think where the game really started to turn was after halftime,” Warren coach John Stanczykiewicz said. “We had a couple of kill shots with easy layups that we missed, then Palatine comes down and gets a couple of scores and we are playing uphill.”
After Warren took a 17-13 lead with 3:04 to go on a bucket by Alyssa Phillips, the Blue Devils were held scoreless until the 4:37 mark when Sammie Jo Nixon ended the drought.
“Right there was the game,” Stanczykiewicz said. “After that run we are down 6 and we never really recovered.”
Palatine used a combination of good outside shooting from senior McKenzie Wiedemann and the inside play of sophomore Monica Masini. Masini finished with 8 points, but her 9 rebounds and 2 blocked shots made it difficult for Warren to maneuver inside.
“They were both disappointed with the way they played (Wednesday) and they knew I wasn’t happy either — and I was very happy with the way they responded,” Schock said. “Monica is only a sophomore and Erin (Mayer) is only a junior and they both stepped up and played much better tonight.”
Warren was able to trim into the Palatine margin on several occasions in the final three minutes of the third quarter and midway through the fourth quarter. Phillips was strong again, leading the way for Warren with 12 points and 12 rebounds. But each time the Devils got close, Palatine responded.
Wiedemann led the Pirates for the second straight night with 10 points, but it was the foul shooting down the stretch from Morgan Radtke (8 points) and Wiedemann that made the difference for Palatine.
Warren was able to build its lead early thanks to the return of junior Cassie Christie. She missed Wednesday’s win over Deerfield with the flu but contributed 7 points off the bench, including a big 3-pointer that helped Warren take an early 15-13 lead.Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.