You know something is up when Montini struggles with its 3-point shooting.
On Friday night in Lombard, that something was the Whitney Young defense.
"That can't happen," Broncos coach Jason Nichols said after his team's worst 3-point shooting game of the season. "We had some open looks. You've got to hit one or two of those. But that's what happens in big-time games."
Limited to a pair of Kelly Karlis 3-pointers on 12 team attempts, Montini (23-2), ranked first in Class 3A, fell 54-45 to the second-ranked team in Class 4A.
"In the first half they didn't hit a 3 and I would've thought we should have been up by a whole lot more," Young coach Corry Irvin added. "... That was huge for us. They're known for their 3-point shooting. Everyone on their team can shoot and we wanted to take that out of the game."
Montini led just twice, 8-7 in the first quarter, then again 25-24 on Sara Ross' three-point play to start the third. Each time Young pulled away, opening a 9-point lead in the third quarter. The Dolphins (20-3) led by as much as 13 in the fourth.
"We could play with them, but we just got lost on defense a couple of times and they just got the lead back up," Montini junior Rainey Kuykendall said.
"We knew they liked to make a lot of passes," Irvin added. "I was a little concerned if they would confuse us with all the passes that they made, but I thought that we did a really good job in our zone of seeing where their covers were coming and where all the passes were coming in. I thought we snuck in there a couple of times, got our hands on a couple of balls because it just kind of got repetitive. Our defense was huge. I think some possessions were taking two minutes, a minute to two minutes just to get a shot off."
The Broncos didn't only have trouble shooting from behind the arc. They also had problems converting layups in the fourth quarter.
"The reality of that game is we missed six layups in the last 4:02," Nichols said. "... I mean you make those layups it's 42-40, it's a totally different game. It's not like you walk out of that game and say, OK, they're significantly better than us. The reality is we just didn't do the little things to take advantage of some opportunities that we had to stay in that game and potentially win it. They did, so you've got to give them credit."
Despite the loss Nichols saw a silver lining.
"The beautiful thing is it's not football, you don't have to win to qualify. Everybody's in for the playoffs," he said. "You just learn from your mistakes and get better, and I think we'll get better from them, I hope."
Karlis was the only Bronco in double figures with 14 points.
Tanita Allen scored 14 for Young, and 6-foot-5 senior Khaalia Hillsman had 11 points, 11 rebounds and 3 blocked shots.
Follow Orrin on Twitter @orrin_schwarz