2012 IL Girls Semifinals: Hillcrest-Montini
2012 Girls Class 3A Basketball Semifinals
March 2, 2012
NORMAL – Montini (32-5) came back to knock off Hillcrest (27-4) 52-48 in the Class 3A semifinal game. In short, the Lady Hawks had the game in control with a 9 point lead, two of the Broncos starters on the bench, Nikia Edom and Sara Ross, both fouled out by the fourth period, and only 4 minutes to play, but a big three from downtown by Kaleri Stone gave them the momentum they needed.
Even though Stone struggled from behind the arc, going 0-for12, she got hot at the right time for team scoring two three-pointers, a key field goal with 1:27 left in regulation and four sets of free throws to secure the victory.
“Coach told us that if we are going to lose, ‘leave it on the floor’ and my shots fell towards the end of the game,” Stone shared with us after the game.
Stone and Edom led the team with 14 points followed by Tianna Brown, the only starting senior, who added 10.
“We had a good come back down the stretch,” said coach Jason Nichols. “I was very emotional… but this (victory) for was for the kids….”
Hillcrest had their fair chances, including starting the game with as much as a 14 point lead in the first quarter, they weren’t able to maintain it. In addition, early foul trouble for Seton Hall recruit Shannise Heady iced her ability to get aggressive.
“I tried to let my defense lead to offense in order to get the team going,” said Heady… She went on to echo what coach Maniatis said “we just didn’t take care of the ball. ”
For the most part, neither team shot well in the game. The Broncos shot 36.7% from the field, while Hillcrest shot 28.6%, but turnovers hurt both teams (48 total) from capitalizing.
“We faught very hard in this game and in fourth quarter, they capitalized on our turnovers,” said coach John Maniatis. “Our kids played hard on the floor in this heavyweight fight between two quality programs, but in the last 4 minutes, we needed to get to 52 pts and they (Montini) got to it before we did.”
Hillcrest were led by senior Jasmine Sanders who had 13, followed by Samirah Ali who added 12. The Hawks just seemed to let this one get away.
“It hurts,” add Maniatis as he left the press room.
This is a three-peat between Montini and Hillcrest in which the Hawks came up short in each of the past two state championship games and the semifinal game. Will today be different? Or will the Lady Broncos continue their winning ways? I believe the game spoke for itself and Montini advances to the Class 3A finals against Vernon Hills, as Hillcrest will face Springfield in the consolation game which will not be easy.
Coach Nichols is trying his best to now focus on the championship game tomorrow against Vernon Hills – “they are playing good right now – with no fear. Meri (Bennet-Swanson) didn’t shoot well today but I’m certain tomorrow she’ll be ready. One game situation who knows… we’ll be ready”
Amateur Sports News Network “Capturing the Art of Sport in Motion” www.AmateurSports365.com