It is becoming apparent that Montini brings its best against the best.
Playing their most inspired basketball since beating Whitney Young at the McDonald’s Shootout, the No. 1 Broncos scored the game’s first 11 points and went on to a 72-50 blowout of Fenwick on Saturday in Lombard.
By now Montini coach Jason Nichols is used to this routine.
“That’s us,” Nichols said. “When they decide they want to play, they play. If they decide they want to play against a bunch of fifth-graders, they’ll play like they’re a bunch of fifth-graders. If they play against us coaches they’ll try to kick our butts.”
Montini junior Sara Ross admitted to the inevitable letdown the last three games, and in practice, since the Young game.
“Since the Young game, we’ve been kind of slow in practice,” Ross said. “Actually the last practice we were picking it up and getting the adrenaline going, which was good coming into this game. After the Young game we died out. We’re trying to come together going into the playoffs.”
Fenwick (21-5) loves to play fast, substitute liberally and above all else shoot the 3-pointer. But the Friars, who lost to another DuPage County team Wheaton Warrenville South on Tuesday, struggled to find the range.
Fenwick missed its first seven 3-point attempts and finished just 10 of 40 from distance. The Friars missed their first four shots and turned the ball over three times before Jade Owens’ runner.
“I think just as a team our shots were really off,” said Owens, who scored 11 points after missing the WW South game with knee tendinitis. “Nothing was clicking for us. Montini’s size made it tough.”
Fenwick’s 50 points were a season low; the previous low was 59, on Friday against St. Viator. A year ago, Montini (28-1) was the first in-state team to hold Fenwick at full strength under 60, giving up 47.
“We actually thought they’d shoot more 3s than they did,” Ross said. “We were going to let them beat us with 2s instead of 3s.”
Ross scored 13 points, her runner making it 11-0 and Kelsey Bogdan’s 3 capped a 22-10 first quarter. The margin never got closer than 10 the rest of the way. Every time Fenwick seemed to creep closer, Montini had the answer.
Malayna Johnson scored 17 points with 11 rebounds, taking advantage of a huge height advantage inside. Kateri Stone added 13 points and Lea Kerstein 9, each hitting three of Montini’s seven 3s. Maggie Reilly added 12 for Fenwick.
“We were pumped up for this game. We knew a couple people on their team,” Ross said. “Everybody was ready to play.”
If Nichols could find fault with this game, it was on the boards. Montini gave up 16 offensive rebounds, although Fenwick failed to fully capitalize. Nichols knew Fenwick to be a team not to get comfortable against, because the streaky Friars can get hot. He doesn’t do comfortable well.
“But our kids get comfortable. When they relax, that’s when Fenwick hits you,” Nichols said. “At times you do relax and that’s the thing that scares me. To their credit this is a good win against a team with some good wins. It is a unique style to go against, which will helps us in the playoffs.”
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