Kelly Karlis loves to play defense. At 6-foot-2 and with long arms, the Montini senior got the kind of length to cause opposing girls basketball offenses lots of trouble.
"I usually try to do my best on defense because I've always been passionate about it my whole life," Karlis said. "Length definitely does help, especially against smaller teams like this, especially having two of their taller, better players out."
With 9 blocked shots and several deflected passes, Karlis was a force defensively for the Broncos in their 75-48 nonconference victory against visiting Hinsdale Central on Saturday night.
Normally a wing player, Karlis moved inside when two of her teammates got off to slow starts and went to the bench.
"We have the flexibility of putting her down there and she can dominate a game just as easily as Malayna Johnson did and Michala (Johnson) used to do, and Tianna Brown where she blocked shots and rebounds," Montini coach Jason Nichols said, mentioning some former Broncos post players. "She was fantastic. That's kind of a nice thing to have in your pocket as a coach."
Karlis isn't just a defensive player, however. The Ohio University recruit also scored 12 points, grabbed 8 rebounds and dished 5 assists. The rebounds were a point of emphasis after Nichols reminded Karlis she'd been lacking in that area the past few games.
"It definitely got in my head to rebound a little bit better today," Karlis said.
Montini (26-2), ranked first in Class 3A, led from start to finish, going up 18-8 after the first quarter, 38-21 at halftime. Kateri Stone led the Broncos with 19 points, and Rainey Kuykendall also scored 12 points. Hinsdale resident Kelsey Bogdan added 11 points for the Broncos.
Despite the lopsided score Hinsdale Central coach Tom McKenna was very happy with the way his injury-depleted team played.
"The best we played in a long time. And that's a heck of a team," McKenna said. "We had to be perfect to win this game and we weren't. I don't know how you can be."
Red Devils junior Gabrielle Rush was her usual prolific self, scoring 28 points. She hit four 3-pointers, shooting a few feet behind the arc, and she was 8 of 8 at the free-throw line.
"When you have Gabrielle Rush who can really shoot the basketball and score the ball," Nichols said, "it presents a different type of challenge, and it did. She scored 28 and our girls didn't do a good job on her."
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