Montini snaps Maine West's winning streak at 44
Eleven months after Montini suffered a 61-34 loss to Maine West, the Broncos handed the Warriors their first loss since the 2017-18 season.
When Maine West's 10-foot shot attempt in the lane was blocked by multiple Broncos just before the final buzzer, Montini secured a 41-40 win in the Chicagoland Invitational Showcase at Fremd High School on Saturday afternoon in Palatine.
The dramatic finish ended the state's current longest girls basketball winning streak at 44 games by coach Kim de Marigny's Warriors.
Maine West's 65 straight wins under coach Derril Kipp in the late 1980s still stands as the IHSA state record in girls basketball.
"We talked about (West's streak)," said Broncos coach Jason Nichols. "And we talked about the hurting they put on us last year. They're a different team and we're a little different.
"But they still have Angela (Dugalic, who will play at Oregon) who requires so much attention and they still have Dylan VanFleet, the perfect role player on any team for someone who does all the little things."
Unfortunately, the Warriors did not have VanFleet for the final 5:50 left in the game (fouled out) and Dugalic played with four fouls in the final period.
"I even told my girls she (Dugalic) had four fouls and she was being more aggressive than us," Nichols said. "That's what makes her an elite player.
"And VanFleet is such a Dennis Rodman-type of kid. She gets under your skin and does everything that her team needs. I told our kids I'll take five of her and win a state title any day of the week."
Sophomore point guard Sophia Sullivan led the Broncos (9-0) with 12 points while junior Taris Thornton added 10.
"What motivated us was that they were undefeated and that this was our most competitive game of the season so far," Sullivan said. "We wanted this challenge. They beat us by a lot last year. So to come as strong as we did, it was nice to see all our effort and willingness to win."
Sullivan's bucket and a 3-pointer by senior Sydney Prochaska gave Montini a 31-26 lead midway through the second quarter.
But West (8-1) but came back to tie the game at 33 on 2 free throws by VanFleet with 7:50 left in the game.
Neither team led by more than 2 points in the final quarter when West converted 6 free throws and no field goals.
"Sophia played really well," Nichols said. "She handled the ball well and I'm really proud of her. Taris Thornton also had a really good moment there in the second quarter when we were down (17-11) and not feeling good about ourselves. She had a couple of big 3-point plays that really kind of built some momentum for us."
Dugalic finished with 17 points and 9 rebounds while VanFleet had 12 points and 4 steals. Also scoring for West were freshman Jaclyn Riedl (7 points) and senior Lena Albo (4 points).
"Angela did a great job staying in the game," de Marigny said. "Dylan puts her heart and soul into everything she does and she couldn't hold back. "Kipp used to say 'get your head on the ball' and Dylan gets her head on the ball and she inspires everyone to play aggressively."
Maine West, the defending Class 4A state champ which went 35-0 last year, suffered it last loss to Geneva in the Class 4A third -place game in 2018.
"It's not the fault of our kids," de Marigny said. "I put the blame on myself for not having them conditioned the way they needed to be. I didn't play a lot of people so I'm asking a lot of them. It's really all on me.
"This is an opportunity for us to learn and grow. We have not lost in a few years so it really hurts. But basketball is what we do, not who we are. So we can't let it define us personally. It's something we need to grow from and be better people and players as a result."
Montini will use the game to build on as well.
"Kim is a pretty darn good coach," Nichols said. "She won a state title. I didn't think our girls played their best but I'm sure she thought the same about her team. We found a way to win. It could have gone either way. It's probably just a good game for both teams to build upon and get better."