Montini-Joliet Catholic state title tilt turns into beyond-the-arc battle

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NORMAL — Sometimes, it’s just a matter of timing.

On Friday, Montini was just 3-of-19 from three-point range and had to scrape and claw its way past Burlington Central.

On Saturday, the Broncos were three-mendous in their 57-44 Class 3A final win over Joliet Catholic at Redbird Arena, nailing 11-of-20.

For the Angels, one of the best three-point shooting teams in the state, it was like swallowing their own poison.

“Our team has gotten hot like that,” Jasmine Lumpkin said. “When you’re hot like that and you can’t miss, you just can’t miss. We did switch defenses a couple of times, but they were just hitting their shots, dead on.

“You can’t do anything about it. But I think we played hard.”

Indeed, it was a game that could have gotten away much earlier than it did, but Joliet Catholic fought the good battle.

The Angels trailed much of the first quarter, but produced some three-point magic of their own when Jnaya Walker drained a shot as time expired to give them their final lead of the game at 13-12.

A few seconds into the second quarter, Kelly Karlis responded for Montini with a trey, starting a pattern that would repeat itself seemingly over and over:

Montini builds a lead. Joliet Catholic rallies. Broncos hit a three… or two… or three.

After Nicole Ekhomu swished a three for the Angels with a handful of seconds left in the half to cut a six-point deficit down to 25-23, Lea Kerstein let fly a nearly half-court shot that went in at the buzzer.

After Ekhomu led a furious third-quarter rally in which Joliet Catholic, down 34-23, scored nine points in a row, Kaylee Bambule and Karlis went to the same left corner twice in a row and nailed threes for Montini.

Joliet Catholic, trailing 40-32, opened the fourth quarter with a basket by Lumpkin. Kateri Stone hit a three for Montini. Mia Farrell scored a two for the Angels. Stone swished two more threes for the Broncos.

Ironically, Montini finished the game with just one more basket than Joliet Catholic. Long-distance dialing made the difference.

“Today they came ready,” Lumpkin said. “They were the hotter team. They are disciplined, but I feel we could have played with them. It got away from us a little bit with that shooting. But it could have gone both ways.”

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