Montini senior Kelly Karlis had to laugh at her own shot. She wasn't alone, which was OK, because the Broncos got the last laugh Friday night.
Shooting from the left corner, Karlis somehow banked in a 3-point shot with 5:01 to play in a Montini Christmas Tournament semifinal against Marian Catholic. The shot gave the Broncos a 5-point lead on their way to a 52-48 victory in Lombard.
"I had no clue that was going in, but on the way back I just started laughing at myself. Thank God it went in," Karlis said before stopping to talk to one of the many college coaches in attendance. "It never really happens to me. Usually I'll hit it just all backboard, but thankfully it went in. It was a close game."
"You saw the shot and you just kind of go, really," Montini coach Jason Nichols said. "I mean you're like, really. It was just unbelievable. That's the only part of the backboard it could hit and go in. When we got that 5-point lead I said, all right, you've got that little bit of separation, a little wiggle room which you need against a very athletic, talented team."
Kelsey Bogdan's 3-pointer with 5:47 to play gave the Broncos the lead for good in what had been a back-and-forth game.
"When they got streaks we really got motivated to get back in the game and play our best defense," Karlis said. "The streaks got us going."
Karlis' trick-shot 3-pointer gave the Broncos (14-1) enough of a lead that the Spartans (11-3) never could catch them again.
"Once again, Bogdan was pretty darned good again," Nichols said. "That's two in a row. If she does something tomorrow night against Rolling Meadows, we might get on a plane and go to Vegas and I'll have her roll my dice. She's hot."
Karlis finished with a team-best 11 points. Rainey Kuykendall and Sara Ross each scored 10, and Bogdan had 8.
But it wasn't Karlis' shot that stuck in the craw of Marian Catholic coach Dan Murray after the game. It was all the offensive rebounds the Broncos got. The 6-foot-1 Karlis grabbed 4 offensive rebounds in the second half. She also blocked 6 Spartans shots in the game.
"I really felt the offensive rebounds that we gave up in the second half really hurt us," said Murray, the former Lisle coach. "We have to finish defensive possessions. They just had way too many second-chance opportunities on long rebounds. We know they're a 3-point shooting team that's going to create long rebounds, and we weren't active to the ball on rebounds. They did a great job on the offensive glass to get themselves second-chance opportunties."
The Broncos advance to meet Rolling Meadows at 8:15 p.m. today in the tournament championship game. Marian Catholic defeated Rolling Meadows 48-47 in last spring's Class 4A championship game. Montini took third in Class 3A.
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