Rolling Meadows’ Jackie Kemph would have gladly traded her MVP plaque for a few more points.
“It stinks we couldn’t get them this time,” she said. “At least we got another chance at them.”
Montini defeated Rolling Meadows in the championship game of their own tournament for the second time in as many years, rallying from a 44-33 deficit in the third quarter to edge the Mustangs 66-63 Saturday in Lombard.
Montini (15-1) used a 13-0 run to take its first lead of the game since early in the first quarter at 46-44 with 38.5 seconds remaining in the third quarter. The run included three-pointers from Kateri Stone and freshman Kaylee Bambule.
“I told the kids in the huddle when we were down 11, ‘Guys, this is like the Wheaton Warrenville South game,’” Montini coach Jason Nichols said. “We had no mojo, no energy. I told them ‘I’m not going to hoot and holler about it. I’ll hoot and holler when we do something right. You figure it out.
“We had two juniors and three seniors in there and they stepped up,” he added. “We hit a couple of shots, got a couple of stops and the momentum swung. It became a ballgame.”
Rolling Meadows (14-2) regained a 59-55 lead on a spectacular drive by Kemph (14 points, six assists) and still led 63-62 with possession and 1:03 remaining when Sara Ross converted a steal into a layup at the other end.
Ross added two free throws with 27.4 seconds remaining and Alexis Glasgow was unable to connect from distance on two shots in the final frantic seconds.
“I wouldn’t say they were awesome looks,” said Glasgow, who led all scorers with 25 points. “I wish I could have that shot back, but the game’s over.”
Stone led Montini with 13 points, Ross had 12, and Kelly Karlis and Bambule each had 10.
“We saw glimpses of this out at Sterling,” Nichols said. “We put it together all this week. But we have to carry it over to the second half because it really doesn’t mean anything if you don’t finish what you want to accomplish.
“We want to get back downstate and playing for a state title,” he added. “I think we took a good step in that direction.”
Jenny Vliet added 12 points and 10 rebounds for Rolling Meadows.
“They’re an awesome team,” Kemph said. “They came out in that fourth quarter and they were really aggressive, in that third quarter, too. I think our team played really well. Lexi (Glasgow) hit a bunch of great shots, Jenny (Vliet) and Ashley (Montanez) had some awesome boards.
“We just couldn’t pull it out,” she added. “But it was a great effort from both teams.”