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Montini overcame an inconsistent night to advance from Monday's Class 3A girls basketball supersectional at Hinsdale Central.
Despite a rough shooting night, including a 5-of-21 performance from the 3-point line in the first half, the Broncos picked up a 59-27 win over De La Salle and will play in Friday's state tournament semifinal against Burlington Central at 2 p.m. at Illinois State's Redbird Arena.
"Tonight we were kind of sloppy," Montini coach Jason Nichols said. "It seems like every time we come to a supersectional we just haven't been very good, and tonight we weren't very crisp. But we found a way to win and I'd rather win like that than lose like that."
Kelly Karlis broke a 5-5 tie midway through the first quarter with a 3-pointer, followed by another from the baseline by Lea Kerstein thatput the Broncos up 11-5.
De La Salle was held to just one field goal in the second quarter; a basket inside the paint by Chardanae Hamilton. Montini closed the quarter with a 16-1 run including back-to-back 3-pointers by Paulina Castro and Kateri Stone in the final minute.
Montini (32-2) overcame a 3-of-19 shooting performance from the 3-point line before Castro's and Stone's baskets.
In addition the Broncos forced 20 first-half turnovers by the Meteors.
"We need to look inside more," Nichols said. "We talk about it all the time; you've got to work the ball inside against a zone defense and then work it outside. If we're going to win this (tournament), we've got to look inside more and trust those kids."
De La Salle opened the third quarter with an 11-5 run and trimmed its deficit to 14 after a 3-pointer by Taylor Torrence made the score 36-22.
"I felt like we came out more aggressive in the second half," De La Salle senior forward Akilah Fletcher said. "I don't think we would have lost by as much if we had come out with that same energy and aggressiveness from the start."
Following Torrence's 3-pointer, the Meteors were held scoreless over the next 5½ minutes as another 16-1 run closed the game for the Broncos.
Kerstein's baseline 3-pointer put Montini up 52-23 before Hamilton's basket inside the paint with 4:03 left ended the Meteors' scoring drought. It was their only field goal in the entire fourth quarter.
"Our team is really good," Nichols said. "That was proven at Christmas when we beat Fremd, Marian (Catholic) and Rolling Meadows in three consecutive nights.
"When their mindset is right and they're playing well, I think they're easily the No. 1 team in the state.
"But that's why you have to go and play the games, and Burlington Central is a young team that's going to be hungry and eager to knock us off."