Christie, Thomas lead Rolling Meadows over Montini
Cameron Christie and Orlando Thomas showed that Rolling Meadows is ready to keep the Mustangs running.
Christie scored 33 points, including going 20-for-20 from the free-throw line, while Thomas scored 15 including 6-for-6 from the line. The duo, who are only starters back from Rolling Meadows' unbeaten team from last season, helped power the Mustangs past Montini 77-63 Monday in the opening game of the Chuck Mitchell Fenton tournament in Bensenville.
"It looked like a typical first game," Rolling Meadows coach Kevin Katovich said. "We have Orlando and Cameron back with a lot of experience. But the rest of our guys don't have a ton of varsity experience. It is good to get everyone some touches and see what they could do."
It was also the first game for Rolling Meadows after Max Christie, who is now starring at Michigan State. The Mustangs passed the test without their former star.
"Max is in the Bahamas now and enjoying life playing for Michigan State," Katovich said. "We have made a point not to talk too much about him. That team is gone, now it is time for the team to take over and make their own legacy."
It was a slow start for Rolling Meadows as a tenacious Montini team took a 30-29 lead at the half on a near half-court shot by Emory Marshall (16 points). Thomas's early scoring kept Meadows in the game.
"Our coaches have been preaching to us that we are the only two guys back with varsity experience," Thomas said. "This is all new to them. Cameron and I just come into the game letting them know to take their time and don't get sped up by the game. Be calm and everything will fall into place."
Christie heated up in the second half. Christie, who missed his first four 3-pointers, drilled his next three attempts, all in the third quarter, as Meadows opened up a 42-35 advantage.
Foster Ogbonna (13 points, 11 rebounds), who did see some time last season, added a pair of baskets and Meadows led 60-50 after three quarters.
Christie helped put the game away, converting all 14 of his free throws in the final quarter.
"It was a lot of fun," Christie said. "I was super excited to get back out there with the team. It was pretty different without Max. I think we are more than just Max now and everyone sees that. We can play with a bunch of people on the court."
Mark Nikolich-Wilson added 10 points for the Mustangs.
Montini was led by Andrew Stokes, who scored 13 of his 17 points in the second half. Estevan Moreno added 13 points for the Broncos.
"I don't know if we are ready to play a complete game yet," Montini coach Adam DeMong said. "That is a little bit of us finding ourselves. They are a more experienced team and they were ready to make those plays."