2017-'18 Season Coverage
updated: 12/10/2016 7:59 PM

Mitchell steps up, lifts No. 2 Montini past No. 3 Rock Island

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  • Montini junior guard Illysse Pitts watches her layup fall through the basket during the Broncos' 53-48 victory against state-ranked Rock Island on Saturday afternoon in Lombard.

      Montini junior guard Illysse Pitts watches her layup fall through the basket during the Broncos' 53-48 victory against state-ranked Rock Island on Saturday afternoon in Lombard.
    Orrin Schwarz | Staff Photographer

 
By Matt LeCren
Daily Herald Correspondent

Sam Mitchell didn't know she would be called upon to play big minutes for Montini on Saturday.

But the 5-foot-6 sophomore guard took full advantage. Mitchell scored 7 of her 10 points in the fourth quarter as the host Broncos rallied from a 9-point deficit to knock off Rock Island 53-48 in a nonconference girls basketball game in Lombard.

Mitchell and fellow reserve guard Illysse Pitts accounted for 13 of their team's 16 points in the final quarter.

"It was good to see Illysse Pitts and Sam Mitchell both step up in the fourth quarter," Montini coach Jason Nichols said. "Sam hit the free throws and Illysse had some driving buckets, so that was a nice positive."

Rock Island (9-1), tied for third in The Associated Press Class 4A rankings, has beaten both reigning Class 4A champion Benet and state runner-up Fremd this season. The Rocks rushed out to a 17-8 lead behind 6-foot-1 sophomore guard Breanna Beal, who finished with a game-high 26 points.

The second-ranked Broncos (10-0) didn't take the lead until sophomore Zoe Zacker scored on a layup near the end of the third quarter.

Zacker twisted her knee taking a charge with 6:10 left in the fourth and didn't return, though she said the injury is not serious.

Zacker's injury was sandwiched in between layups by Pitts that gave Montini the lead for good. Mitchell and Kaylee Bambule followed with 3-pointers, two of the 10 the Broncos sank.

"I had no idea (about playing time)," Mitchell said. "I go out there and play and don't worry about the points. I just want to get it done."

Mitchell and Pitts did exactly that. Beal's three-point play pulled Rock Island within 47-43, but Pitts sank a pullup jumper and then Mitchell hit two pairs of 1-and-1s in the final 1:51 to ice it.

"I knew Sam and Illysse would play well," said Bambule, who scored all of her team-high 15 points on 3-pointers. "They really showed what they have today. I'm very proud of them."

Pitts finished with 9 points for Montini. Zacker had 10 points and 4 assists, while senior point guard Claudia Kunzer chipped in 5 assists and 2 steals and forward Aaliyah Patty added 10 rebounds.

"We knew that they were a great team," Mitchell said. "We just wanted to show our strength and try to do our thing.

"Coach kept saying to us that we need to pick it up, and I think it hit us in the third quarter. We dug deep in our hearts and finished it."

The Broncos gave up only four baskets in the second half. Beal had all but four of the Rocks' points after halftime.

"They're a team that's a state championship-caliber program," Rock Island coach Thad Hoover said. "We're still a young team, but it's good to be playing the best the state has to offer right now. It's never fun to lose, but there's a lot we can take from this and try to improve on."

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