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The Montini girls basketball team accomplished its mission Monday at the 24th annual McDonald's Shootout at Willowbrook High School by beating Bolingbrook, a top 10 team in Class 4A, 56-40.
But what Broncos coach Jason Nichols wants his top-ranked Class 3A team to learn from the game is to not let up on the intensity with a big lead.
Montini (21-1) led 15-3 after the opening quarter but only outscored the Raiders (10-4) 41-37 the rest of the way.
"The first quarter looked like who we are. But we get complacent and go through the motions and that gets you knocked out of the state tournament," Nichols said.
When Bolingbrook called a timeout just 2:08 into the game, the Broncos led 7-1 on 3-of-6 shooting while the Raiders attempted just one shot and coughed up the ball five times. At quarter's end Montini was 7 of 17 from the field, while Bolingbrook was just 1 of 9.
The Raiders got their offense going somewhat in the next eight minutes, pulling to within 8 points, Montini's smallest advantage of the period, on a three-point play from Alexis Cowan. The Broncos, however, closed out the first half on a 9-3 run to lead 30-15 at halftime despite each team finishing the half with 14 turnovers.
Lea Kerstein hit a 3-pointer with Kateri Stone and Rainey Kuykendall making field goals during that scoring spurt.
While Montini wasn't happy with how it finished, Bolingbrook coach Chris Smith said the Raiders absolutely needed a strong start against the Broncos but found themselves digging out of a hole they couldn't get out of.
"Talking to the kids, I said Montini was a team that we need to come out disciplined and prepared to play against. We didn't do it," he said.
Montini led 44-26 at the end of the third quarter with Bolingbrook narrowing the lead to 12 in the final quarter with 4:30 left in the game.
The Broncos shot 46 percent from the field in the second half after hitting 43 percent in the first two quarters. Bolingbrook warmed up to 30 percent after 23.1 in the first half and made 8 of 10 free throws in the third and fourth quarters to take some padding out of Montini's lead.
Stone led the Broncos with 13 points. Kuykendall and Ross each had 10. Ross had 11 rebounds and Stone 10. Kuykendall, of Naperville, was very familiar with the Bolingbrook lineup having played AAU ball with the Bolingbrook Panthers.
"I grew up playing with them," she said. "Sometimes you slow down when you have a big lead, but you can't. Bolingbrook can pick up the pressure every time."