2017-'18 Season Coverage
updated: 12/28/2013 12:41 AM

It's a keeper, as Rolling Meadows makes title game

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It was fitting that the Rolling Meadows girls basketball team played a nifty game of keep-away with the basketball while protecting a big lead in the final minute of Saturday's semifinal of the Montini Tournament.

That's because the Mustangs were also able to keep Trinity away from the lead when the Blazers made their big comeback in the second half.

Meadows led by 15 points at intermission but the previously undefeated Blazers charged back to within 41-40 with two minutes left in the third quarter.

The Mustangs, however, shut the door with a 9-0 run and never looked back in a 65-52 victory.

Meadows (14-1) returns to the title game of the 16-team tourney and will face Montini (14-1) at 8:15 p.m. Saturday in the championship game.

The host Broncos defeated Meadows 52-43 in last year's title game.

"They (Trinity) made that run on us and at that point we just had to slow down the offense, run some sets and things worked out," said Meadows senior Jenny Vliet, who worked as hard as anyone while scoring 19 points with 13 rebounds.

"This is really exciting. Last year we felt like we fell apart in the championship game but now we feel like we will be peaking."

Senior guard Jackie Kemph led the Mustangs with a game-high 21 points while also handing out 4 assists.

"That's an awesome team," Kemp said of Trinity (13-1). "Now we've got some momentum for (today)."

Kemph, as usual, gave the Mustangs her usual floor momentum.

Her 3-pointer was part of an 11-0 run by Meadows to end the first half.

Vliet scored 8 points in the second quarter, two coming on putbacks.

"Jenny made a real big hustle play where she made a putback after we missed a few shots," said Mustangs coach Ryan Kirkorsky. "I even told the kids if we all play like seen did on that play the rest of the game, we had no chance of losing.

"That's just how Jenny plays. She is a phenomenal basketball player who just cares about winning. She is that same person in practice. If it's a three-on-three drill, she is playing as hard as she does in this tournament."

Trinity coach Ed Stritzel, whose daughter Patricia was the Blazers second-leading scorer behind Lauren Prochaska (16 points), felt Meadows' ability to rebound in the first half was the difference in the game.

"Rolling Meadows is a great team," Ed Stritzel said. "I thought Patricia did great tonight. I'm real hard on her, but I thought she did a nice job defending (Alexis) Glasgow."

But Glasgow, who scored 6 points, made plenty of other contributions to the Mustangs' big win with 7 rebounds and 4 assists.

When Trinity got to within 41-40 on Kaitlyn Aylward's 10-footer in the lane, Ashley Montanez stepped up offensively for Meadows

The senior forward hit a free throw and then took a pass from Glasgow and converted an 8-foot lean-in for a 44-40 lead.

Moments later, she took another pass from Glasgow for a lay in and 46-40 lead.

"I told my staff if it got to 44-40 I was going to call a timeout," Ed Stritzel said. " But what did I do? I waited until it's 46-40. So I'll take the blame."

Montanez finished with 14 points and 5 rebounds.

"Obviously, they like to run and we do, too," Kirkorsky said. "We were hoping the difference would be getting the ball to Ashley and Jenny in the post."

The Mustangs weren't surprised by Trinity's comeback.

"They're a good team, very well coached and they know how to find the mismatches," Kirkorsky said. "I thought our kids did a good job responding to their run."

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