All season long, Montini has refused to get caught looking ahead to the prospect of making history.
There's no avoiding it now.
After their latest dominating playoff win, a 72-41 dispatching of Chicago Phillips at Monday's Class 3A Hinsdale Central supersectional, the No. 1-ranked Broncos are heading back to Redbird Arena where history awaits them.
Montini (34-1) advances to play Vernon Hills -- which the Broncos beat 56-38 in last year's championship game -- in a Friday state semifinal in Normal. Two more wins and Montini will become the first girls basketball program to win four straight state championships.
"We've talked about it, how nobody's ever done it," said Montini junior Sara Ross. "It'd be pretty cool to do it."
One record already was broken Monday, Montini's 26th straight playoff win breaking the record 25 it shared with Bolingbrook.
"It's exciting just to go down. Our goal this year wasn't to win state, it was just to get down there," Montini junior Kateri Stone said. "I think now we have new goals."
Of those 26 straight playoff wins, 24 came by double figures, and Montini has beaten this year's five playoff opponents by an average margin of 29 points.
At times the Broncos toy with their opponents, even play down to the level of competition.
Their coach knows that can't happen this weekend.
"I think sometimes they get bored. They're not going to be bored this weekend," Montini coach Jason Nichols said. "If they think we played really well these last five games they're wrong. I think we played well against Glenbard South. I'll be on them and they might get discouraged, but hopefully they're not discouraged at four o'clock Saturday afternoon."
Enjoying a huge height disparity over a Phillips team with one player taller than 5-foot-7, Montini took advantage.
Kelly Karlis, a 6-2 junior, scored 9 of her 15 points in the first quarter, and 6-4 Malayna Johnson scored 6 of her 14 in the opening period as Montini jumped out to leads of 11-0 and 18-4 and never looked back.
Montini pulled down 19 offensive rebounds and outrebounded its smaller opponent 45-23.
"We were out to put them away early," said Johnson, who also had 7 rebounds and 3 blocks. "We didn't want them to think they had a chance."
Karlis had a fine all-around game, also adding 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 blocks. If Karlis wasn't gliding in for driving scores, she was lobbing in to Johnson for numerous layups.
"Kelly stepped up," Nichols said. "Their weak-side defense is not very good, and I thought Kelly with her length got to the basket in a hurry and her and Malayna played a nice two-man game."
Lea Kerstein added 9 points and 6 rebounds, hitting 3 of Montini's eight 3-pointers and Kelsey Bogdan had 8 points and 5 rebounds. Ashley Seaton scored 18 for Phillips (17-12). Montini didn't need much offense from leading scorer Stone, who shot 1 of 8 after missing the last two games with a high ankle sprain.
"It was kind of painful with certain moves. I think most of it's mental right now," Stone said. "I'm glad I played this game to get those nerves out so hopefully Friday it won't happen."
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