Thomas, Montini topple Geneva
At the beginning of this season, Montini coach Jason Nichols said Tatiana Thomas wasn't being assertive enough.
That certainly isn't the case anymore.
The sophomore forward was aggressive from the opening whistle Friday, leading the Broncos to a 47-33 win over previously undefeated Geneva in the quarterfinals of the Montini Christmas Tournament.
Thomas scored the first eight points of the contest for Montini, which improved to a perfect 16-0, and she finished with a game-high 17 points to go along with 7 rebounds.
"The first six, seven games, I wasn't playing very well," Thomas said. "I actually love it when Coach tells me I'm playing bad, it motivates me. And sometimes you just need that one (good) game. The feeling coming out of having a good game, that can turn around your whole perspective."
The Broncos' defense was stifling, limiting the Vikings (10-1) to 4 field goals in the first half and 9 overall. They also held Geneva standout Lindsay Blackmore to 2 points after the senior scored 29 the previous day against York.
"To hold her to 2 points, I thought we did a good job on her," Nichols said. "But the thing is, we still have gaps. We are so young and we have gaps where we decide to take plays off. A lot of the older, great teams, like Benet and Evanston, they don't do that. They were like us a few years ago. But we are still finding ways to win. All I know is we defended the heck out of Geneva."
The Vikings, though, also held their own defensively and trailed just 20-14 late in the first half before an 11-0 spurt, which carried over into the second half, gave Montini full control.
"We had a poor last three minutes of the first half," Geneva coach Sarah Meadows said, "and we had a poor first couple minutes of the second half. Outside of that, we were right there. But that is why we are in this tournament, to learn and to get better.
"I like where we are at and I love our fight. That won't change. These kids are ballers."
Kate Palmer and Cassidy Arni had 11 points apiece to top the Vikings, who got to within 38-26 in the fourth quarter. Blackmore hauled down 11 rebounds.
Sydney Prochaska knocked down a trio of 3-pointers for 9 points and Maddie Saracco had 6 points for Montini, which advanced to play Evanston in the semifinals.
"Sarah is one of the best coaches around," Nichols said. "She gets a lot out of her kids. When you play her teams, you know they will be right there."