Charles buzzer-beater lifts Montini in battle of state-ranked teams
Montini sophomore Taylor Charles said she has scored game-winning baskets before on layups but never a 3-pointer.
She has now.
Charles swished a contested 22-footer at the buzzer to give host Montini a dramatic 50-48 victory over Lincoln-Way West on Wednesday in Lombard.
"That was a really high-pressure moment," Charles said. "We were awful shooting 3s today, but we knew we had to keep shooting.
"That's what we needed to do to win the game, so we had to do what we had to do."
The ending had all the drama befitting a matchup between two state-title contenders, even if the quality of the overall play did not.
The visiting Warriors (24-3) are ranked fourth in the latest Class 4A AP poll and have impressive victories over the likes of Evanston, Homewood-Flossmoor and Bolingbrook.
They led Montini, which is ranked third in Class 3A, 40-32 after three quarters before the Broncos (26-4) went on a 14-5 run capped by a drive from Tatiana Thomas, to take a 46-45 lead.
Sydney Swanberg's 3-pointer gave the Warriors a 48-46 lead with 4:05 remaining, but neither side scored another basket until Charles buried the game-winner off a pass from Angelina Giordano.
"Credit to her," said Lincoln-Way West star Taylor Gugliuzza, who scored a game-high 18 points. "That was a tough shot.
"We were running hard and making them scramble around that last 10 seconds. I thought she was pretty contested.
"I really just don't think there is anything you can do about that. That's a tough shot and she made it."
It was one of the few 3-pointers Montini hit. They were 5 for 33 until that point and Charles had missed her first six 3-point tries, but she never lost confidence.
"It just shows us that we have to keep shooting and 3s are eventually going to fall," Charles said. "(The win) does a lot for our team's confidence."
Tatiana Thomas had 15 points, 12 rebounds and 4 steals to lead Montini, while Charles and Sophie Sullivan each scored 11 points. That didn't impress Montini coach Jason Nichols.
"We were rotten tonight and we've got to be better," Nichols said. "I emphasize this so much -- we are not practicing well at all.
"We're not playing well consistently for a full practice and that's what is showing up in the games. I have been harping on them to the point of exhaustion for them and me and until it clicks, we're going to be an inconsistent team with a ton of talent."