Montini girls basketball coach Jason Nichols is seldom quiet on the sidelines, and often his comments are directed at junior guard Kelsey Bogdan.
Nichols' intent, like all coaches, is to get the most out of his players, and his success over the years is hard to argue with. It's also hard to argue that he is indeed pushing Bogdan to accomplishgreat things, like her 15-point outburst in Thursday's 59-51 defeat of Fremd that advanced the Broncos (13-1) to Friday's semifinal round of the Montini Christmas Tournament against Marian Catholic.
"Free throws were huge for us in the fourth quarter, and I thought Kelsey Bogdan was outstanding tonight, and I am usually her biggest critic," Nichols said after his team held off the Vikings by going a perfect 12 of 12 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter.
Bogdan was 4 of 4 from the line in the final quarter and 7 of 7 for the game, and she nailed both ends of a bonus situation to give the Broncos a 53-49 advantage with 40 seconds left to play.
"It's a tough coaching (style). I know that the longer I've been in the program the harder he is on me," Bogdan said. "But it's nice to see it paying off, and it makes you tougher."
Nichols also preaches defense, rebounding and free throws, and all three played key roles in holding off a Fremd squad powered by Haley Gorecki, who tallied a game-high 24 points. Gorecki led all scorers with 10 points through two quarters as Fremd trailed just 29-28 at the half.
The game stayed tight throughout, but the Broncos hit their free throws, held the Vikings (10-2) to just one shot each possession down the stretch and forced five turnovers in the final quarter, which saw the hosts outscore Fremd 15-11.
"I felt like down the stretch we beat ourselves," Fremd coach Dave Yates said. "It was basically a one possession game up until about the final minute and a half, but for whatever reason we just didn't execute."
Kelly Karlis had 13 points, 2 blocks and 2 steals for Montini, and teammates Kateri Stone, Claudia Kunzer, Kaylee Bambule, Lea Kerstein and Paulina Castro all made good on timely 3-point shots.
For Fremd, Gorecki was the lone player to score in double figures, but Bryanna Hopkins was solid with 7 points and 8 rebounds.
"When our team plays defense we can play with anybody," Bogdan said. "Our team puts a focus on free throws, rebounding and defense, and we did those tonight."