2017-'18 Season Coverage
updated: 2/18/2011 12:30 AM

Montini keeps shooting the 3, and the shots keep dropping

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  • Girls basketball regional. Montini vs. Wheaton Academy at St. Francis high school in Wheaton

      Girls basketball regional. Montini vs. Wheaton Academy at St. Francis high school in Wheaton
    Paul Michna | Staff Photographer


As much as you'd think otherwise, Whitney Adams didn't arrive at Montini with a reputation as a 3-point shooter.

"Middle school, I was mostly a 5 (center) -- I had some post moves," Adams said.

Her freshman year, the then 6-foot Adams made a grand total of zero 3s.

Fast forward two years. In the Class 3A championship game, Adams hit four of Montini's state finals record 12 3-pointers.

Spring came, and Adams heated up even more. At the AAU Deep South Classic last April, Adams hit more than 30 3-pointers in six games. Days later, North Carolina offered Adams.

"That's what colleges like to see -- a big girl who can shoot," said the 6-2 Adams. "He made me a shooter."

He is Montini coach Jason Nichols, and nobody shoots the 3 better than his Broncos.

Last season Montini made 235 3-point shots, capped off by the record dozen against Hillcrest.

Live by the 3, die by the 3. Life couldn't get any better.

With the Broncos' top two snipers, Mallory Sosnovich and Alison Seberger, graduating, that mantra figured to take a slight backseat.

Think again.

Montini made 217 3-pointers this regular season and 12 more in the regional opener Wednesday against Wheaton Academy. Three Broncos -- Adams, Whitney Holloway and Kiki Wilson -- could end up topping 50 makes. Sophomore Nikia Edom is already over 30.

Who would have thought they'd shoot it even better this year?

Assuming Montini makes it back to state, the Broncos should pass Prairie Ridge's total of 260 from 2000 -- the second-highest since the IHSA introduced the 3-point shot in the 1987-88 season. Galesburg set the record 365 last year, but attempted 1,382 -- about double the number Montini has put up.

Many are the opponents snowed under by an avalanche of Montini 3s. Wilson hit 7 in a blowout of Edwardsville, the second-ranked team in 4A. Montini made 7 straight in routing 3A-ranked Peoria Richwoods.

"When we're knocking them down," Holloway said, "we're pretty hard to beat."

Big understatement, Whitney.

Like Adams, Holloway has made herself into a 3-point threat. Last summer she shot about 500 a week. Adams also frequented open gym and shot on her own.

Then there is Montini's practices.

Every day the Broncos do a "Follow the Leader" drill, rotating around the 3-point arc. Nichols said each kid can get in 45 shots over a 3˝-minute span. Shooting goes on for about 45 minutes.

By that time they're dead tired. Legs gone. Arms probably ready to be iced down. But the focus is still there. Just like in games.

Repetition, repetition, repetition.

"We do so much shooting," Nichols said, "and we do it all on the move. The kids have really embraced it. I think shooting is consistency in your fundamentals and repetition. Not everybody is going to have the same shot, but we want them comfortable in their shot."

Footwork is critical and, Nichols said, key in Adams' and Wilson's development. Adams came to Montini with a terrific midrange jumper but gradually progressed outward through drill work.

"We are on them all the time about getting into shots quickly," Nichols said. "Now they can get their shot off in a split second."

As a team, Montini shoots the 3 a shade under 34 percent. Not a bad number, when you consider the NBA average last year was 35.5.

Wheaton Academy coach Beth Mitchell has a good idea why that percentage is so good.

"They move the ball so well," she said. "I don't know that I've seen anybody that moves the ball as well as they do. They're fun to watch."

It's no accident. Nichols preaches the skip pass as a zone-buster.

"I have a saying, why would you take a good shot when you can set up a teammate for a great shot," he said. "We stretch (zones) and then we move 'em."

Nichols made a point in mentioning that Montini's philosophy is "not just jacking 3s." And with superior quickness to last year, the Broncos indeed do not live and die by the 3.

But Adams knows the next time she passes up an open look could mean a familiar yell to "shoot the ball!" A seat on the bench could follow.

She'll never get yanked for shooting. It's a fun, and winning, offense.

"He wants us to keep shooting," Adams said. "He knows eventually they'll fall."