Montini regroups, advances to semifinals

Updated 12/27/2014 10:07 PM

Huntley got the full Montini girls basketball experience on Saturday afternoon at the Montini Christmas Tournament in Lombard.

Well, almost.


Despite losing leading scorer Kaylee Bambule to a knee injury just 16 seconds into the game, the defending Class 3A champion Broncos cruised to a 63-33 victory in the tournament quarterfinals. Montini (16-1) will meet Benet (15-0) in the semifinals at 6:30 p.m. Monday. Huntley plays Geneva at 3 p.m. Monday.

Bambule will probably need an MRI, though Broncos coach Jason Nichols is hopeful the injury isn't serious. The Broncos couldn't help but notice her absence on the court.

"She spaces the floor out," Nichols said. "Between her, Lea (Kerstein) and Nikki (Oppenheimer) we have three big-time shooters. She's our leading 3-point shooter at 50 percent. Fifty percent. I mean that's incredible. She's got 45 3s and she can do some things. We have some depth, which is good, but it changes things."

The rest of the Broncos also are weary after playing at Sterling's tournament last week.

"I think our kids are tired," Nichols said. "We're battling some flu. Lindsey (Jarosinski) has been sick and (Kelsey) Bogdan's been sick. They're at about 75 percent, so that's not a good thing. We're grinding, we're fighting, we're trying to get better. We're playing good teams. I like a lot of things, but there are some little things internally that we have got to get better."

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The Broncos led from start to finish, though the Red Raiders (8-4) cut the margin to nine points when sophomore forward Morgan Clausen converted a layup off a Montini turnover just before halftime.

"I thought we did a really nice job in the first half of competing, and getting down 21-8 in the first quarter, I thought our girls showed some resiliency and did a nice job of cutting their lead and getting it to 29-20 at the half," Huntley coach Steve Raethz said. "In the second half, obviously, it's kind of a recipe for disaster when you give up 34 and only score 13 against the No. 1 team in the state."

The Broncos heard about their second-quarter lapses from an angry coach at halftime, and they resolved to do better in the second half. By the end of the third quarter, Montini led 50-29, and the lead only grew from there.

"It really just came down to hustle plays," said Bogdan, a senior who will play at Harvard next year. "My whole team was talking about how we have to get rebounds and get our pressure up because that's what can really turn a game against a team like that. They win with hard work, and we needed to come back with those hustle plays."


Oppenheimer came off the bench to lead Montini with 14 points. Showing the depth, Nichols mentioned, Bogdan, Kerstein and Tiara Wallace added 8 apiece.

"They're a really good team, they're really talented," Raethz said. "What makes them so difficult is they're really difficult to guard at all five spots because they all can score."

Junior post player Ali Andrews scored 15 points for Huntley before fouling out with 3:31 to play. Clausen scored 14.

"Ali and Morgan did a nice job of stepping up and providing us with a lot of the load offensively in terms of scoring," Raethz said. "It hurt us that she got into foul trouble there in the second half along with Kayla Barretto."

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