Kateri Stone understands that her role for No. 4 Montini is to be a shooter. But sometimes, it takes a little prodding from the bench.
“My gosh, everybody tells me to shoot more,” the six-foot junior said. “I know I need to keep shooting. I’m a shooter. It’s what I do. It’s how I help the team. It’s my contribution.
“But sometimes, especially when we’re so far ahead, you want to do something else, get someone else open,” she added. “If we’re in a big game and down three points, it would be awesome to hit a big shot like that.”
Tuesday’s first-round game of the Montini Christmas Tournament against St. Francis de Sales was close for about six minutes. But a 20-0 run, fueled by a trio of three-pointers from Stone, turned a 17-11 lead into a 77-39 romp.
Montini (15-1) will play Batavia (11-5), a surprisingly easy 70-51 winner over Bogan, in a second-round contest Thursday at 3:00 p.m. Stone is sure to draw some attention from the Bulldogs’ defense.
“I thought Kateri’s catch-and-shoot approach today was nice,” Montini coach Jason Nichols said. “She can shoot it. I thought she could have had another three or four looks, but she sometimes passed it up. I think she just doesn’t want to be selfish.”
Kelly Karlis scored 11 points, Malayna Johnson added nine points and freshman Claire Jakaitis added eight for Montini, which built a 42-18 halftime lead.
“We’ve been playing with fire a lot lately,” Nichols said. “The Geneva game, the Walter Lutheran game. We’ve been just kind of nonchalantly going through the motions. I told the kids when we’re ready to play, we’re as good as anybody. When we’re not, we’re as bad as anybody.”
That lack of mental preparation finally caught up to Montini in its loss to Peoria Richwoods at the Sterling Shootout last Saturday.
“They’re (Richwoods) not an unbelievably great team, but they’re very good at what they do,” Nichols said. “We came out sleepy. We weren’t ready to play. The kids went through the motions. We talked about having the right mindset, the right approach. The loss could have woken us up.
“Another loss may help us, too,” he added. “You never know. At the end of the day, this is not football. You don’t need points to get in the playoffs. We just need to be ready to go when the playoffs start. We have to be sure we’re the best team we can possibly be in February.”
Meanwhile, for St. Francis de Sales, it was a long jump from the GCAC White division to a holiday tournament game against the three-time defending Class 3A state champions.
“It’s a huge jump,” St. Francis coach Terrence Streater said.
“I saw a lot of good things from our team and I saw a lot of bad things,” he added. “One good thing I did see was they did play hard. We had five, six girls play the entire game, and in a fast-paced game like that, it’s pretty rough. But they played hard and that’s all I can ask at this point of the season.”
Tyler Brown-Henderson led the Pioneers (4-9) with 15 points and Isis Mance added 14.