Montini gives Aurora Christian the lesson it wanted
Aurora Christian won't see a team like Montini in the Class 1A girls basketball playoffs.
That's exactly why the Eagles wanted to see the Broncos on Friday night in Lombard.
Montini, ranked No. 2 in Class 3A, gave Aurora Christian one of its best efforts of the season in a 68-27 nonconference victory.
"They just shot it really well," Aurora Christian coach Burney Wilkie said of the Montini start against his matchup zone. "When they shoot it like that not a whole lot we can do. We went to man and the whistles weren't going our way, foul trouble-wise so kind of took us out of the game there the middle of the second quarter.
"But we're growing. I'm excited about this, to be honest with you," Wilkie added, unfazed by the final score.
Aurora Christian (23-4) this week cracked the AP Class 1A top 10 for the first time, coming in at No. 10. A loss to a team like Montini shouldn't hurt the Eagles in the rankings but will help them in the playoffs.
"We're playing hard, we're doing some good things," Montini coach Jason Nichols said, happy with his team's improved play. "I just think we need to be more efficient with our layups and free throws. We've got to be better there. But our defense, we mixed defenses well tonight, got a lot of tips and deflections and got out and ran.
"I thought our speed hurt them. Our depth hurt them. But I give that guy (Wilkie) a lot of credit. A lot of schools don't want to play those teams. I guarantee that game helps him get better. I really appreciate Burney coming over."
The Broncos (24-4) jumped out to a 13-3 lead six minutes into the game when Tatiana Thomas scored. A Thomas lay-in with 1:55 left in the second quarter put the Broncos ahead 31-11, and the lead kept growing from there.
"I thought we played really good today. I thought we played really good defense and did a good job," said Montini 6-foot-2 sophomore Taylor Charles.
But the Eagles impressed Charles also.
"They were really aggressive, way more aggressive than I thought. They were a really good challenge," she said.
Charles led the Broncos with 12 points, 9 rebounds, 3 blocked shots, 3 steals and 3 assists.
"She was active. She got tips and deflections," Nichols said. "If Taylor plays good defense, she usually has good offense. When she doesn't do the other it kind of affects her game a little bit."
Freshman Madisyn Saracco scored 10 for Montini off the bench, and Thomas added 9 in her first game back after missing three games with a concussion.
Anna Griffin's 11 points led Aurora Christian.
"Tonight when we had our top five or six, our main rotation, I thought we handled their pressure pretty well," said Wilkie, who found out Friday his team will open the playoffs on Feb. 11 in the Harvest Christian regional against either Harvest Christian or Elgin Academy.
"... I knew we were going to get pressed. I was excited about it, you know? Kill us. I told the girls, if they press us when they're up 40, I'm fine. Let's continue to work and grow. In 1A who's going to do that?"