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Basketball

Montini wins battle of defending champs against Whitney Young

Broncos' zone limits Harper, Dolphins in shootout win

Montini's Kelly Karlis makes her way to the basket during their game against Whitney Young at the McDonald's Shootout held at Willowbrook High School Monday Jan. 21, 2013.
Montini's Kelly Karlis makes her way to the basket during their game against Whitney Young at the McDonald's Shootout held at Willowbrook High School Monday Jan. 21, 2013.

Whitney Young senior guard Linnae Harper is rated among the best high school seniors in the country, but Montini’s 2-3 zone defense found a way to limit her.

Harper shot just 4-22 and was held to nine points in the Broncos’ 51-36 win in the nightcap of the McDonald’s Shootout at Willowbrook Monday night.

“We forced them to beat us from outside,” said Montini coach Jason Nichols. “They really like to attack that high post area from the weak side. A couple times we got caught napping, but only a couple.”

The Dolphins weren’t able to beat the Broncos from the outside. They shot just 2-19 from three-point land and 25 percent overall.

Montini, the three-time defending Class 3A state champ, and Whitney Young, the defending Class 4A champ, are both favorites to repeat. It was the smaller class Broncos that controlled play throughout.

Montini trailed twice in the early minutes and never again. A 23-18 halftime lead ballooned to 12 in the third quarter on a three by Lea Kerstein. The Dolphins got no closer than five the rest of the way.

“We knew this was a big game,” said Montini junior Sara Ross. “We were all really excited. There’s a lot of people saying we couldn’t do it and all the naysayers because we lost so many people.”

Ross had a game-high 11 rebounds and made six free throws in the fourth quarter to eliminate any chance of a comeback.

Kelly Karlis was the game’s only double-digit scorer with 14 points.

Even Nichols, an admittedly tough coach on his players, was pleased with the performance.

“It never stops of course and there’s always things we did wrong, but he said it’s a good win so everybody’s happy,” Ross said with a smile.

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