In their short turnaround from Saturday’s game against King (Milwaukee, WI), top ranked Montini had much more to prepare for than usual.
Not only did the Broncos have to travel to face 11th ranked Loyola with just three day of preparation, they had to do so without the services of their starting point guard Samantha Mitchell, who suffered a knee injury in Saturday’s win.
But what could have easily been a letdown game for Montini turned into a decisive 56-40 win for the Broncos, solidifying their number one ranking while improving to 21-1 on the season.
“Yea, losing Sam Mitchell is not a good thing for us,” said Montini coach Jason Nichols. “I’m pretty pleased and we had like two days to prepare. Yes, Sam doesn’t play the whole game and we do have backups but she plays 28 minutes a game like the best players in the state but I was very happy how everybody stepped up.”
With Mitchell out of the lineup, it took Montini a little bit of time to get into an offensive rhythm. Both team were neck and neck for much of the first quarter until Montini settled in and closed out the quarter on a 5-0 run to take a 13-7 lead.
The real story of the contest though, was the Montini defense, especially through the second and third quarters.
As per usual, the Broncos sat back in their zone, using their length to keep Loyola out of the lane. Even when Loyola started running a five out offense, the Ramblers were not able to generate any clean looks, forcing extremely long three point attempts that they were unable to convert on.
“One thing they tried to do the entire game was getting us two on one on the week side,” said Montini wing Aaliyah Patty. “Coach told us to get in the passing lane and that’s what we did. It made it harder for them to go over the top and we’re not an easy team to shoot over.”
Loyola only managed to score one field goal in the third quarter, but their own defense stepped up to keep the game somewhat within reach to trail 35-19 at the end of the third quarter.
“My biggest disappointment in that third quarter is that we couldn’t get more separation,” said Nichols. “It’s tough to play a zone against a five out and It’s funny, the last three days we did not practice one ounce of defense and I thought we did a really good job mixing things up and doing things the right way.”
The beginning of the fourth quarter saw Loyola jump out to a quick 8-1 run to bring the deficit down to just single digits thanks in large to junior guard Julia Martniez.
Nichols said: “Martinez hit some down the stretch to get it down to eight or ten. We were fine with letting her shoot that but to her credit she started hitting those shots.”
Martinez finished the night with 16 points, five rebounds, six assists, and five steals, but her hot start to the fourth quarter was negated by the play of Aaliyah Patty and the rest of the Broncos down the stretch.
No only did Patty finish the night with 20 points and 10 rebounds, but the Ohio St. commit also dished out four assists on the night, which helped open up the floor for herself late in the game.
“It was just about reading the game,” Said Patty “They gave me some opportunities to shoot early, then when they tightened up a little bit that’s when I started going to the basket, drawing fouls and kicking to people who were open.”
Even though Montini struggled from the free throw line throughout the fourth quarter, Montini finished the game off quite comfortably for an extremely solid 16 point win.
Both teams will participate in the Derril Kipp Subway shootout at Willowbrook high school on Saturday, with Montini tipping off against St. Joes at 2:00 PM and Loyola facing defending state champions Geneva at 8:00 PM.