Jason Nichols' fears became reality.
Montini's girls basketball coach had a feeling his team was not in the proper frame of mind for Saturday's nonconference contest with DeKalb -- and he was right.
However, despite not being at its best, the Daily Herald's top team still found a way to pull out a 43-38 overtime win against the Barbs in Lombard.
"Yes, we won," Nichols said, "but we were not mentally tough enough to battle through. There are some lessons to be learned here. Our kids were not ready to play this game and that was obvious in practice, yesterday."
Montini (20-1) led by as many as 11 points early in the second quarter and led 23-16 halftime, but the Barbs (16-3) slowly battled their way back and eventually forced overtime when senior guard Courtney Patrick made a 10-foot jumper with 7 seconds remaining in regulation to tie the game at 34.
Montini regained the lead for good on its first possession of overtime when junior guard Kateri Stone connected on a 3-pointer. Stone saved the Broncos by scoring all nine of their overtime points, including making 6 of 6 free-throw attempts. Stone made a pair of freebies with 39.8 seconds remaining in the extra session with Montini clinging to a 39-38 lead. Stone was the lone bright spot as Montini as a team shot 15 of 31 from the line.
"We didn't come out ready to play like we should and, maybe, we got what we deserved," said Stone, who was the only Montini player in double figures with 14. "This is our home floor, so we have no excuses for not making free throws. In the end, we just didn't want to lose and buckled down and did what we had to do."
Nichols was just relieved his squad knew who to get the ball to in with the game in the balance.
"I don't know if we found a way to win, because we almost found a way to lose," Nichols said. "Thank God we had the ball in the right kid's hands there are the end and she made her free throws. I'll take (Kateri) there every day of the year and put money on her."
DeKalb coach Chris Davenport saw a lot of positives despite the fact his squad shot 12-for-47 from field, which included seven 3-pointers, and squandered several opportunities late in regulation to possibly pull out a victory.
"This was a great game for us to play," said Davenport, whose team won a sectional title last season in Class 4A. "That being said, we were not mentally tough enough to win this, but we're working on it. We fought our way back. We kept fighting and fighting. I am proud of the way they played. We have some youth out there and it showed at times, but we're improving."
DeKalb's Rachel Torres matched Stone with 14 points while Patrick added 10 for the Barbs, who also did themselves no favors at the line, making 9 of 17 free-throw attempts.