Simeon trips up Montini in Class 3A semifinal
NORMAL -- Despite a sophomore-heavy lineup Montini didn't play in the Class 3A girls basketball semifinals just for the learning experience.
The Broncos still have a chance to win a game, but their championship hopes disappeared with a 48-40 loss to Simeon on Friday at Redbird Arena.
"Nothing is guaranteed," Montini coach Jason Nichols said. "We don't even know if we'll be back here. That's something that we've emphasized. Right now it's real easy to say it's youth. That's an easy answer. I've just never been a part of that thought process."
The Broncos (32-5) will be back at 11 a.m. Saturday to play Springfield Lanphier for third place.
"We're just going to treat it like another playoff game that we can win and get third place because we're not going to come down here just to get fourth," sophomore guard Angelina Giordano said.
Rebounding, a Montini weakness all season, was a weakness again. Simeon (33-3) outrebounded Montini 34-30 but got 20 offensive rebounds.
"We are pretty big and our bigs always come through and attack the glass, rebound well," Simeon coach Jonathan Davenport said. "It keeps teams from getting second and third shots at the basket. That's been our key all season long is attacking inside. They stepped up and did pretty well today."
The offensive rebounds gave Simeon plenty of second and third shots at the basket, and they took advantage.
"Their best offense might be shoot, miss, go get the rebound," Nichols said.
It didn't help Montini that two of their best rebounders, Tatiana Thomas and Taris Thornton, got in foul trouble early. Both fouled out.
Simeon took advantage of Montini's foul trouble.
"As they got fouls I felt like they didn't really try to rebound as much as they were at the beginning because they were worried about getting fouls," said Simeon junior Aneesah Morrow, who led the way with 22 points and 13 rebounds, 9 of them on the offensive glass.
The rebounding numbers left the Broncos disappointed.
"One of my coaches, Caprice (Smith), said it doesn't matter how big you are, it's how big you play, and I feel like we didn't live up to that expectation today," Thomas said. "Even though we're not an extremely huge team, we still have some strong players that have played strong, including myself. That's just really what cost us the game down low."
Trailing 26-21 at halftime, Montini tied the game at 28 in the third quarter after Giordano and Sophie Sullivan each hit a 3-pointer and Thomas added a free throw. Simeon responded by scoring the next 7 points to regain the lead for good.
"It's definitely hard to know that we could have won the game if we had a couple of more offensive rebounds, or putbacks gave them a lot of points," Giordano said.
Montini cut the Simeon lead to 43-40 with 2:47 left in the game on a Thornton free throw, but the Broncos never scored again.
"We studied a little bit on Montini and they love to shoot," Davenport said after his team held Montini to 6-of-22 shooting from behind the arc. "They live and die by that 3-point shot, and they can shoot very well, so our game plan coming in was to contest the 3-point shot, close out on all shooters and make them have to work hard to get those shots."