Montini drops heartbreaker in sectional final to Sycamore
With 15 points in the fourth quarter alone, Shannon Blacher was leading Montini's charge from 15 down in the final frame against Sycamore in the Class 3A Kaneland Sectional final.
But her layup attempt at the buzzer in traffic didn't fall and the Spartans held on for a 57-56 win for the first sectional title in school history.
"It feels like everything we ever worked for paid off," said Sycamore senior Ella Shipley, who finished with 11 points and five rebounds. We worked so hard and just to see us come together, our community come together, we have never felt more supported and we just feel so supported. I can't think of a better moment."
The Spartans (32-2) led 25-9 early in the second quarter. Montini (25-9) chipped away a couple times but Sycamore grew the lead back to 45-30 after a layup by Evyn Carrier with 6:43 left. Carrier finished with 23 points, eight rebounds and two blocks in the win.
"The first half we played awful," Montini coach Shannon Spanos said. "Defensively we struggled. Hats off to them they shot really well. We knew we had to come out in the second half and change things up and pressure them. I thought our press gave them lots of issues."
The Sycamore lead was still 49-39 with 2:59 left when the Broncos started to surge. Blacher made a pair of 3s in the final 3 minutes, including one 1with:03 left that made it a one-point game, 53-52.
Lexi Carlsen answered at the other end with a pair of three throws to push the lead to three, then Blacher got it to 55-53 with 28.5 left with a free throw of her own. Carrier followed with a layup on the press break to push the lead back to four, but Shea Carver drained a 3 with 6.7 seconds left to make it 57-56.
Carlsen was back at the line for a 1-and-1 and missed the front end. The Broncos raced down the court and Blacher ended up taking the layup but it didn't fall.
"We were right there at the end with 6 seconds left," Spanos said. "Shannon went hard to the basket, had some contact, and that was it."
Spanos said she was pleased with the season the Broncos had, and that the grit they showed Thursday was the same attitude they showed all year.
"That just shows us. Our culture. Our philosophy. Our grit," Spanos said. "We never quit. They did it. They fought back, I think we were down 16 at one point. They don't quit and they haven't all season. We fought all season so I wasn't surprised but what they did tonight."