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Restovich sisters come up big as Visitation records rare first-round win in own tournament

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TOWN AND COUNTRY — Grace Restovich reveled in the moment.

The Visitation Academy sophomore guard scanned the court as she entered Saturday's contest against Life For Life.

She immediately broke into an ear-to-ear grin.

"I looked to my right and there was one of my sisters," Restovich said. "Then, on the left, was the other."

The 5-foot-6 inch sparkplug felt right at home.

"It was just like the games we played in the driveway while growing up," she said.

The Restovich trio certainly made the most of one of the rare times the three were all on the court at the same time.

Kate, a senior, poured in a game-high 20 points and Grace added 12 to help the Vivettes to a thrilling 44-40 win in the opening round of the Visitation Christmas Tournament.

Visitation (6-1) won a first-round game in its own tournament for the first time since beating Metro 47-28 on Dec. 22, 2012.

And the Restovich sisters played a key role in the landmark triumph.

Kate and twin sister Annie are regular starters for the Vivettes. Grace provides energy off the bench.

Visitation coach John Sheridan normally inserts Grace to replace one of her sisters.

But on Saturday, the situation called for more Restovich power down the stretch. Grace came into the game for the fourth time with 2 minutes, 32 seconds left in the contest.

"It doesn't happen a lot," Sheridan said. "In the flow of the game, sometimes it works."

It certainly did on Saturday.

Grace immediately recorded a steal and layup with 1:13 left to short-circuit a Lift For Life rally. 

The Hawks (2-3) had charged back from a 12-point deficit to get to within 41-40 on a stick-back by Paige Fowler.

Grace eventually clinched the closing 3-0 blitz by canning a foul shot with 11 ticks on the clock.

"Without her we wouldn't have been able to pull this out," Kate said of her little sister. "She brings energy and passion out there and that's what we needed."

Kate took control of the contest with a dominating third quarter performance. She scored all 10 of the Vivettes points including a 3-pointer that pumped the lead to 36-24.

Visitation held a 26-24 halftime edge before the Kate uprising.

"At halftime, we talked about coming out and winning the third quarter," Kate said. "I felt like I could do something out there that could make a difference."

Kate hit a pair of long-range bombs in the third period and also added a nifty spin move to the basket.

Lift For Life used a 14-5 blitz at the outset of the fourth quarter to get back into the contest. Lauren Bennett added a key basket.

But Visitation regained control. Grace drilled a 3-pointer to push the lead to 39-34. Kate followed with a steal and layup.

Annie, who leads the team in scoring at 13.8 points per game, turned in a pair of big steals in the second half.

Senior Lucie Schwartz added seven points to the winning attack. She was particularly effective in the opening half. Senior Avery Jacoby hit a 12-footer off glass in the second period that pushed the lead to 26-16.

Sheridan was overjoyed that his team was finally able to advance to the quarterfinal round for the first time in more than a decade.

"It'll make Christmas even better," Sheridan said.

Visitation will take on Eureka (6-3) in a final eight matchup on Dec. 26 at 6 p.m.

"All of my four years here we've been wanting to work our way up into this tournament," Kate Restovich said. "It's so competitive. So just to win a game like this, it's real important for us."

Kate and Annie will continue their basketball careers at St. Mary's College in Notre Dame, Indiana.

But for now, the Restovich gang is enjoying the Vivettes best start since the 2003-2004 team won its first seven games on the way to a 12-1 beginning.

"I think by winning this, we made a statement," Kate said.

Lift For Life will take on Parkway West in a consolation round game at 2:30 p.m. on Dec. 26.

Hawks coach Greg Brown was pleased with the way his team rallied from a pair of double-digit deficits on Saturday.

"That's been the thing this year, we keep falling into these holes," Brown said. "To me, the season is a marathon. As long as my girls are playing well at the end of the year, we'll be happy."

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