Montini junior Aaliyah Patty won't soon forget the image of seeing coach Jason Nichols running around the Mother McAuley basketball court in celebration Monday night like Jim Valvano.
It will be a fond memory, considering the Broncos' 39-35 double-overtime Class 4A supersectional victory against Homewood-Flossmoor in Chicago.
"It was so great to see his face," Patty said with a laugh, the postgame celebration still going on all around her on the court 10 minutes after the final buzzer.
"When you're very tight with your seniors and you love your seniors like I do, you don't want it to end," said Nichols, who has won four state titles. "I don't know what's going to happen this weekend, but the one thing I know is they're playing the last day of the season."
The Broncos (32-1) advanced to the state semifinals against Edwardsville at 5:30 p.m. Friday. The game will be televised on Comcast SportsNet Chicago Plus. The Broncos, ranked No. 1 in Class 4A, still haven't lost to an Illinois team.
"That was unbelievable. Unbelievable," Nichols said, wiping sweat from his brow and accepting congratulations from Montini fans leaving the gym. "A year ago in the supers we lost in overtime (to Trinity). This time it took two to get it. ... Those kids just gutted it out. We were not good offensively, but (the Vikings) were a big reason why because of their defense. But I whipped our tails all year about our defense, and that's what saved our butts tonight. Our defense was awesome."
So was the H-F defense, with quickness on the outside and 6-foot-5 Eva Rubin a force on the inside.
"It was tough," Patty said of playing against Rubin. "She's strong, she's a good player. Lindsey and I just did what we had to do."
"They had a post who could neutralize us, and she did," added Nichols, who alternated the 6-3 Patty and 6-5 Lindsey Jarosinski.
Patty finished with 12 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 blocks, the biggest with 40 seconds left in the second overtime and the Broncos leading by 2 points.
Montini trailed 29-25 with 1:20 to play in regulation, but Patty scored off an Illysse Pitts assist with 35 seconds to go. After the fourth-ranked Vikings missed a free throw, Montini rebounded the basketball and called a timeout with 7.7 seconds left in regulation.
The play was for a Kaylee Bambule 3-pointer off a double screen.
"Coach was telling us if you don't have a shot, you've got to go to the basket," said Bambule, a senior who will play at Ohio University. "I just saw a lane and I was like, I gotta take it now, there's no time on the clock, and it just happened.
"Once I got there I was like, oh, my goodness, I beat her to the basket. This is very rare for me. I've got to make it count."
Bambule also scored 12 points, making three 3-pointers.
The first overtime was a Sam Mitchell 3-pointer for Montini at the 2:55 mark, followed by a Karlie Seay 3 for the Vikings at the 2:29 mark. The Vikings held the ball the final 1:45 or so for a last shot but missed it.
Patty got Montini the lead to start the second overtime, but Finess Dickson's 3-pointer with 2:50 to go sent H-F ahead 35-34. Patty answered with a three-point play at 2:41, giving the Broncos the lead for good.
"I kept telling her on the bench, her and Lindsey, you're not scoring now, but your next basket could be the biggest," Nichols said. "You know what? They came through when it counted."
After Patty's blocked shot senior Claudia Kunzer gave Montini a 4-point lead with 26.7 seconds to go. Again, the Montini defense, in a 2-3 zone, frustrated the Vikings.
Seay led all scorers with 16 points, and Nadia Chanel Green added 11 for the Vikings.