Fenwick stymies Montini in 2nd half

By Bob Narang
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 2/20/2021 7:52 PM

After playing a reserve role last season, Montini junior guard Sawyer White anticipated a heavy uptick in minutes this winter.

Besides the shortened season and no state tournament, White is also adapting to an enhanced leadership role on the new-look Broncos.


She showed her leadership in Saturday's defeat against Fenwick, helping the Broncos overcome a tough start to play a strong second quarter.

Victoria Matulevicius scored a team-high 14 points, and Sawyer and Shannon Blacher both contributed 10 in Saturday's 62-44 loss in Lombard.

Nobody could have predicted the Broncos (1-4, 0-4) to be simply fighting for wins, especially after Jason Nichols' memorable 17-year tenure which included four state championships and 15 sectional titles.

The tumultuous offseason started with Nichols' shocking decision to resign to accepting the head coaching position at Morton College which led to most of the Broncos' key players transferring.

But White elected to stay at Montini. It's a decision she doesn't regret, even if at times she misses Nichols' trademark "are you serious" rants to officials and players.

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"I wanted to see how the team played out this year, and I love this school and environment," White said. "It's weird not hearing (Nichols), but I'm happy for him. I'm excited that I was named captain this year because I feel I can really help the team with leadership."

First-year coach Shannon Spanos, who earned 12 letters at Montini, said it's been a learning experience for the coaching staff and players. The Broncos start two freshmen -- Matulevicius and Alyssa Epps -- and returned only three players from last season. The Broncos dressed eight players in Saturday's game, as they trailed 31-30 at halftime but only scored six points in the third quarter.

Spanos said she's encouraged by her team's attitude, plus the positive leadership provided by White.

"It's been a unique and challenging year, but I'm excited for the girls who are here to have this opportunity," Spanos said. "We have a lot of young kids. They played their hearts out for two quarters, but we have to play four to play a complete game. They never quit. Sawyer White has been a great leader. She works hard and has such a good attitude. It's kids like her that I'm excited about. It's a great opportunity."

The 5-foot-9 White said she's still adjusting to such an increase in minutes and production.,

"Last year my role was playing defense and getting stops," White said. "It was nerve-racking at first this year. I was nervous, but I got over it after the first few games, and am now building my confidence. I think we played a good game, but we just broke down after in the third and fourth quarters. We can build off this."

The Friars (2-2) played without Audrey Hinhrichs (ankle injury) for the third straight game, but Amanda Hansen (16 points), Elise Heneghan (12 points) and Lauren Hall (11) all had big games.

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