Montini got back to its dominant ways in the Class 4A Argo sectional semifinal against Proviso East on Monday.
After pulling out a close victory over Downers Grove North in the Oak Lawn regional final on Feb. 17, the Broncos revved it up on both ends of the court to crush the Pirates 77-47 in Summit. The top-ranked girls basketball team (30-1) in Illinois will next face Whitney Young in the sectional final at 7 p.m. Thursday.
"I was really happy with our comeback after last Friday's game where maybe we didn't feel we played as well with no disservice to Downers North because they played great," said Montini coach Jason Nichols. "We had more attention to detail and focus. I was really proud of how we played."
Balance was the name of the game for the Broncos. With talented post players 6-foot-5 center Lindsey Jarosinski and 6-3 forward Aaliyah Patty doing their good work in the paint, scoring when they needed to and then kicking it to the sharpshooters at the 3-point arc -- Kaylee Bambule, IIysse Pitts, Sam Mitchell, Frankie Kokkines and Claudia Kunzer -- when they were open, Montini's offense was in rhythm all night long.
Jarosinski led the Broncos with 16 points and Patty notched 13 points. Mitchell and Kunzer added 12 and 10 points, respectively, while Pitts and Kokkines contributed 9 points apiece.
"Post played great today," Kunzer said." We got it in and that really opened shots for everyone. We work hard. When we work hard, we play at the highest level. We were all dialed in."
"We got good position on them and scored," Jarosinski said.
The Pirates (21-5) pushed a fast pace early on offense and played a physical game, pressing the Broncos guards. Montini countered with strong ballhandling skills and quick passes to get out of the traps. Kunzer was particularly impressive in beating the press with her crossover and behind the back dribbling.
Proviso East stayed close in the first quarter thanks to the play of Keimari Rimmer, who led all scorers with 20 points. Rimmer scored 6 points to help the Pirates stay within 19-13 after the end of the first eight minutes of play.
Montini turned it on in the second quarter with a 11-2 opening run. Some key plays were an offensive board putback by Patty, a Mitchell 3-pointer and then Kunzer had a quick steal and scored on a slicing move to the hoop. Kunzer also sank a 3 to finish with 7 of her 10 points in that period.
"We found things to beat them on," Patty said.
"They got in good position on us and were able to put it in," said Proviso East coach Ezra PridGeon, Jr. "We didn't stick to our game plan."
Give the Broncos defense credit too. They held the Pirates to single digits in the second and third quarters. This defensive pressure turned into quick offense to put the Proviso East defenders on their heels.
"We could push tempo on them and could create some easy scoring opportunities because they showed a tendency of not getting back on film," Nichols said. "I thought we did a good job of exposing that."
Added Kunzer: "Everyone was playing full effort. It got us pushing the ball. We knew we could run on them and get them tired.
"It feels great (to have won the sectional semifinal). We have to keep playing and hopefully go all the way."