Montini keeps win streak going against Libertyville
Three days after his team snapped the longest winning streak going in Illinois high school girls basketball, Montini coach Jason Nichols considered the possibility that another winning streak would get stopped.
His own team's.
Nichols' undefeated Lady Broncos tipped off against Libertyville in Lake Zurich's Exam Jamm as part of the Chicagoland Invitational Showcase on Tuesday night.
"He was a little nervous because he thought we might be thinking (Libertyville) wasn't as good as they actually are or we just weren't going to play as well," Montini guard Sydney Prochaska said. "But we came back to practice on Monday and we had a lot of bounce."
The Lady Broncos' energy carried over, as they bounced Libertyville 54-36 to improve to 10-0.
"At times, we looked good," Nichols said. "And at times, we ran out of gas. We're not in great shape, which I don't understand because we practice really hard. When we get tired, our kids just stop, and that's something that's going to hurt them later on."
Montini was playing its first game since beating defending Class 4A state champ Maine West in Saturday's Fremd-hosted Chicagoland Invitational Showcase. The win snapped the Warriors' 44-game winning streak.
Montini bolted to a 19-10 lead after one quarter against Libertyville (4-4), which played its second game in a row without starting point guard Margaret Buchert (bruised hip).
The Southern Illinois-bound Prochaska scored all 8 of her points, including a pair of 3-pointers, in the first quarter. She took only 2 more shots the rest of the game.
"I think early I was just ready to come out, and I just wanted to play really hard," said Prochaska, who also had 3 steals. "Later, my shot wasn't working as well so I was trying to look to pass more."
Libertyville junior guard Morgan Spaulding came off the bench to score a game- and season-high 11 points, including a trio of 3-pointers in the opening half. She and junior guard Marianna Morrissey have provided a jolt offensively with Buchert out. Morrissey scored just 4 points against Montini but had a career-high 20 against Zion-Benton last Friday night.
Promising freshman guard/forward Emily Fisher remains sidelined with an injury as well for Libertyville but could be close to returning.
"We have to step up and just do what the team needs," Spaulding said. "We're here when they need us. It's hard having (Buchert and Fisher) out. It's going to be good to have them back."
Lauren Huber added 9 points and 6 rebounds for Libertyville, which has an important North Suburban Conference game at Stevenson on Wednesday night and could be without Buchert again.
"Margaret brings wisdom, energy, shooting, driving and speed," Wildcats coach Greg Pedersen said. "That's the main thing. We want to be playing faster basketball, and that's going to be a challenge for Margaret when she comes back."
Montini featured a balanced attack offensively. Maddie Saracco came off the bench to score a team-high 9 points. Besides Prochaska, Taylor Charles also scored 8 points for the Lady Broncos, who led 30-18 at halftime and 43-31 after three.
"They're fantastic," Pedersen said. "They're right- and left-handed, three-point or drive, defense was good, they're well-coached. They're going to be strong in the state tournament. It's good for us to play this game."