Girls basketball playoff previews: Montini, Willowbrook seeded for deep runs
Broncos going for four-peat, Warriors looking for first regional since '96
Sectional seed: No. 1
Regional opener: 6 p.m. Wednesday vs. No. 16 Noble Street Charter UIC or No. 18 Crane
Outlook: The Broncos are heavily favored to win a fifth straight state title. They've lost just once this season and played a who's who of top programs in the non-conference schedule.
However, Montini coach Jason Nichols remains guarded due to his team's habit of playing to the level of the competition.
"Whoever we play that's how we decide to play," Nichols said. "If they want to play against a bunch of fifth graders they're going to play like a bunch of fifth graders. If they want to play against the coaches they're going to try to kick our butts."
Nichols isn't fond of subtlety, but his point rings true. The Broncos blew out Whitney Young and Fenwick, top Class 4A programs, while needing overtime to beat DeKalb, going to the buzzer against Geneva and beating 2A Walther Lutheran by single-digits twice.
Still, no one will likely be picking against Montini to win this year, and as long as they bring anything resembling their A game, they should be hoisting up another state trophy in March.
Glenbard South is the No. 2 seed in the Nazareth sectional behind the Broncos.
Sectional seed: No. 9
Regional: Wheaton Warrenville South
Regional opener: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday vs. No. 8 Bartlett
Outlook: The Dukes have had an up-and-down season but seem to be figuring things out at the right time.
York finished the regular season by winning three of its last four West Suburban Silver games. Senior guard AnnaBell Lansdowne has led the team in scoring as expected, but the young supporting cast has stepped up.
Something to watch for in the postseason will be the play of Alyssa Kovatchis. Kovatchis, a sophomore guard, was running the offense as the starting point guard before breaking her collarbone early in the season.
Kovatchis missed six weeks and coach John Constable has been gradually increasing her minutes since her recent return with the hope of having her back at 100 percent by the playoffs.
Her addition will come in handy in the regional semifinal against Bartlett. The Hawks earned third in state last year but lost most of the firepower from that team.
"Bartlett is a heck of a team," Constable said. "They've always had a very good basketball tradition. I like our chances. We are playing well at the right time."
The winner will have a tough time winning the regional since top sectional seed and regional host Wheaton Warrenville South would likely be the next game. Either way, a win over Bartlett would help erase the memory of York's upset loss in the first round last year.
Sectional seed: No. 2
Regional opener: 6 p.m. Tuesday vs. No. 15 Glenbard North or No. 18 West Chicago
Outlook: After leading the West Suburban Gold all season, the Warriors lost two of the last three conference games to fall short of winning the league title. Willowbrook finished with a 10-2 record, just behind 11-1 Hinsdale South.
The Warriors will look to get over that disappointment by winning the program's first regional since 1996. As the second seed in the Bartlett sectional they have a great opportunity to do so.
However, if Willowbrook gets past Glenbard North or West Chicago in the semifinal, the Warriors could see a tough opponent in the regional final. No. 7 seed Proviso West won the West Suburban Silver with an 11-1 record and has a combination of athleticism and height that could be a tough match for the Warriors.
West has 6-foot-5 sophomore Cinia McCray and 6-foot-2 senior Candace Madison to cope with inside. Throw in prolific scoring guard Mikaela Boyd and the Panthers have plenty of talent.
Willowbrook counters with its quick ball movement and bevy of quality guards. Anita Sterling, Angela Bruno, Olivia Domin, Molly Krawczykowski and Colleen Krawczykowski give the Warriors a number of offensive options.
Sectional seed: No. 20
Regional: St. Charles East
Regional opener: 6 p.m. Monday vs. No. 13 Fenton
Outlook: The Rams haven't won since Dec. 14 and entered Thursday's DuPage Valley Conference finale at West Aurora winless in the league.
East plays a slow style and will try to play a low-scoring game against Fenton in the regional opener. The Rams haven't scored more than 40 points in a game, but have held their opponents to 40 or less in 13 games.
Juniors Tajanae Key, Elie Donovan and Kelly Eberle have been among the team's leading scorers this season.
The Rams play Fenton from the Metro Suburban Conference in a regional quarterfinal and the winner will play No. 4 Geneva.
Sectional seed: No. 19
Regional: Elk Grove
Regional opener: 7:30 p.m. Monday vs. No. 14 Downers Grove North
Outlook: The Blazers started the season 3-2, but have sputtered since. AT finished 2-10 in the West Suburban Gold and won six games this season.
Claudis Denigris and Kelsey Horvath have been a pair of bright spots for AT. The senior guard duo leads the Blazers in scoring, and both will need to have big games in order for AT to get by Downers Grove North in the regional quarterfinal.
Junior guard Sarah Costello leads a young Trojans team. The winner will play No. 3 Wheaton North in the semifinals.
Sectional seed: No. 10
Regional opener: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday vs. No. 7 St. Francis
Outlook: The Trojans were unable to defend their title in the Metro Suburban Conference, but they still finished 9-3 in the league.
No Trojan averages double-figure scoring. Instead the team relies on a balanced offense.
Kelli LeGrand (8.7 points per game) and Sara Hodges (8.6) lead the team in scoring. Timothy's top five scorers are all seniors.
That experience will be key since TC is moving up from Class 2A to 3A this season. One upside to the move is that the Trojans won't face Walther Lutheran, the team that knocked them out of the playoffs the last two years.
The Trojans will take on St. Francis in a regional semifinal. Junior guard Kate Slattery is the Spartans' best player. The winner of that game likely sees No. 2 Glenbard South in the regional final.
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