Montini finishes with a win
NORMAL -- Montini made its final game of the girls basketball season a good one.
The Broncos took the lead from the start and built a comfortable margin, cruising to a 55-43 victory over Springfield Lanphier in the Class 3A third-place game Saturday at Redbird Arena.
"That's actually so nice just to be able to have a win in my last game," said Montini senior Sydney Prochaska, who will play at SIU next season. "I know a lot of girls don't get to have that last game with a win and I think it's awesome to come out with a bang."
The Broncos (32-5) led 18-7 after one quarter, with freshman Shannon Blacher coming off the bench to score 8 points, including two 3-pointers.
"When coach put me in I was like, I need to make an impact," Blacher said. "So I was like, I'm wide open enough to shoot so I just shot and it fell in."
Blacher was part of a bench group that outscored Lanphier 29-0. Fifteen Broncos played in the game.
Sophomore point guard Sophie Sullivan led the Broncos with 15 points. She made 4 of 6 shots from the 3-point arc.
"My teammates were really good at getting me the ball and I was wide open, so I was going to shoot it," she said.
Junior forward Taris Thornton added 12 points, making 6 of 7 shots. She also led the Broncos with 6 rebounds in 21 minutes of floor time.
"The big thing was getting Taris Thornton at the high post," Montini coach Jason Nichols said. "We hit her a couple of times and she's so explosive. I think you saw why not having her on the floor yesterday (due to foul trouble in a semifinal loss to Simeon) really hurt us."
Montini's lead reached 25 points when sophomore forward Taylor Charles opened the third quarter with a 3-pointer. Montini made 10 of its 28 3-point shots.
"I thought they moved the ball well advancing the ball," Lanphier coach Doug Collins said of the Broncos. "I'm going to be honest, that team was quicker than I thought. They're athletic. They took care of the ball. I mean, that's probably one of the best teams at shooting the 3 that I've seen probably this year."
Lanphier (26-10) cut the Montini to 51-39 midway through the fourth quarter, but Montini spread the floor and took time off the clock to protect the lead.
"For the first 18 minutes of the game we played great and for the last 14 minutes we kind of just cruised home, and that's kind of who we've been," Nichols said. "Once they started pressing us it created opportunities for us to get looks in space whether it was 2-on-1s or even open 3s in transition, And we hit them, so that was a good thing."
The third-place game win was the ninth time in the Broncos' 10 trips downstate in Nichols' 17 seasons as coach that they've won their final game of the season.
"I think it's important," he said. "You have to respect that. For the most part I think we've done a good job of showing up on the second day after probably a not-so-good feeling the night before."