Montini sweats out victory against Sycamore
Montini girls basketball coach Jason Nichols could finally breathe a little easier.
Propelled by a 14-6 run in the final 4 minutes and 23 seconds, the Broncos grinded out a 61-55 win over Sycamore to win the Class 3A Hampshire sectional Thursday night.
The Broncos (30-4) will play Grayslake Central in the Burlington Central supersectional hosted by Elgin Community College at 7 p.m. Monday, with the winner advancing to the state semifinals March 6. Grayslake Central defeated St. Viator 54-48 to win the Crystal Lake South sectional.
"We saw a lot of film on Sycamore and they are a really, really good team," Nichols said. "I was really worried about this game. We knew it would be a tough one. Sycamore is an awesome team. We got off to a great start in the first quarter, then couldn't make a basket in the second quarter. There were a lot of momentum swings. We finished strong and made some free throws down the stretch."
Connecting on only 14 of 27 from the free-throw line for the game, the Broncos connected on 7 of 10 in the last two minutes to seal the sectional championship.
Sophomore Taylor Charles, who scored 13 points with 11 rebounds, made 5 of 6 at the line in the final two minutes.
Senior Sydney Prochaska scored all 5 of her points down the crucial stretch, including a 3 and a layup off a turnover. Prochaska fouled out with 54 seconds left.
"Sydney is a great senior leader and made a key 3 and had a breakout layup," Nichols said. "She came up big tonight when we needed her."
Taris Thornton scored 15 with 11 rebounds and 3 assists.
"It was a very physical game at both ends," Thornton said. "Sycamore is great team who played tough. We are just glad to get the win."
Sophomore point guard Sophie Sullivan collected 12 points with two 3s, 7 assists and 5 steals.
"Sophie struggled in the first half," Nichols said. "She played a great second half and really distributed the ball to our shooters in the second half."
Sycamore (24-8) was paced by four-year starter and Iowa State-bound senior Kylie Feurbach with 23 points and 3 assists.
"There are some great players in the state," Nichols said. "She is certainly among the top three. She can shoot the ball and she is very unselfish."
Evynn Carrier added 10 points with 7 rebounds and 3 assists for the Spartans. Faith Feurbach and Faith Klemm added 8 points apiece.
"I am so so proud of this team," said Sycamore coach Adam Wickness. "They played their hearts out for 32 minutes and didn't quit, We played toe to toe with one of the best teams in the state. Hats off to Montini, they are a great team. In the first half we missed some layups and easy shots and that cost us. You have to really execute well for four quarters to beat a great team like Montini. This is a disappointing loss. We had our hearts set to play in the state finals."