A happy medium. Montini's looking for it.
The boys basketball team on Friday had its high scoring game this season. It also gave up the most, losing to Suburban Christian Conference Gold Division foe Marian Central 78-67.
Allowing coach Curtis Price's tall, much-improved Marian squad a 25-point first quarter, Montini pulled within 5 points in the game's last four minutes. On the road in Lombard, the Hurricanes countered with a 10-2 run to clinch victory.
"We've struggled scoring 40 points lately," said Montini senior forward Matt Brachmann, whose 17 points led Terrence Williams, Sam Thomas and Tom McGillicuddy all in double figures for Montini (4-8, 1-2).
"We didn't have a problem with that today, but then it was our defense in the first half. So we emphasized more offense in the beginning and then realized, OK, we've got to go back and find a medium to that," Brachmann said.
It wasn't that Montini played olé defense in that first quarter, Marian Central (7-7, 3-1) made the extra pass. Six Hurricanes scored in the quarter led by Nick Waytula off the bench to pace 9-of-14 shooting, 4 of 5 on 3-pointers.
"I think this was the best passing we've had the entire season," Price said.
Marian led 39-27 on Matt Ricchiuto's inside bucket off a pass by sophomore point guard Adam Pischke when Montini coach Brian Opoka ordered the first of several different defenses, a 1-2-2 zone, to trim the margin.
It had an effect. Montini trailed 41-31 at halftime, and with good action by Brachmann, Williams and Thomas off the bench, the Broncos stayed in the ballgame.
Montini trailed 68-57 on a Waytula basket from another Pischke assist when Williams made a layup and was fouled by Pischke, who added a technical. Williams and Brachmann combined to make 4 of 5 free throws to get the Broncos within 68-63 with 3:34 to play.
Brachmann took a charge on Marian's next possession but Montini couldn't capitalize. Waytula's turnaround jumper and a pair of Ben Schnepf free throws -- they led Marian with 18 and 17 points, respectively -- spread the lead to 72-63 with 1:22 left. Marian followed Mike Mooney's putback with 6 straight points.
"I feel like what happened was they broke our (defense) down and we were out of position," said Thomas, who scored 10 points with 6 rebounds and 3 steals.
"The biggest thing we have is our energy, enthusiasm and our hustle is there," Opoka said. "And with that, we're going to be able to do things in the second half of the season."