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Montini is a difficult team to beat, regardless of how well they play. That’s evidenced by its three consecutive 3A state championships. But the Broncos are nearly impossible to beat when they share the ball the way they did on Thursday evening.
Eleven of the 12 players on the Montini roster scored, and eight players finished with between five and 10 points, as the Broncos defeated Rosary 65-23 in the championship of the Crane Regional. They advance to the Nazareth Sectional.
“We’re very hard to defend, and we’re very hard to scout because we have such good balance,” said Montini coach Jason Nichols. “On any given night, any kid can step up. That’s what we have to keep working on, keep pushing and stay sharp.”
The top-ranked Broncos (31-1) started fast and never looked back. Their lead was 16-4 after the first quarter and 38-11 at halftime, thanks in large part to sharing the ball and crashing the glass. Rainey Kuykendall finished with the team lead with 10 points, to go along with five rebounds and two blocked shots.
Second-chance points were also a big key for Montini. The Broncos hauled in 15 offensive rebounds, resulting in several putbacks and easy chances at the rim. Nichols said following the victory that offensive rebounding is typically not a strength of his team, but something they’ve been working on a lot down the stretch of the season.
“We don’t usually hit the boards really well, but we’ve been emphasizing it,” Nichols said. “That was something I thought we did a great job of tonight.”
For the Montini players, the win meant one title down, but still several more to go.
“I feel very excited, because it means we are that much closer to winning state,” said senior Maylana Johnson, who had eight points and six rebounds. “I think we did really well (versus Rosary). We came out here with a lot of energy. “
Rosary ended its season with a 15-12 record. Karly Tate led the Royals in scoring with nine points.