Girls Basketball: Shannon Blacher, Montini blow out St. Francis in tournament opener

Montini teammates Alyssa Epps and Shannon Blacher.

LOMBARD – Whether leading by a wide margin in a game or practicing, Montini junior Shannon Blacher gives it her all, and perhaps, somehow more.

“Every day, I go 110%, no matter what. Or else, you’re just wasting your time,” Blacher said following Montini’s 74-20 victory over St. Francis in the opening round of the Montini Christmas Classic on Monday. “So I think just not giving it your all is just not playing who you can truly be up to your full potential.”

Montini (8-4) led by 50 to close the third quarter, prompting a running clock the final quarter. The Broncos face York, who defeated Burlington Central in the first game, at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. With multiple teams dropping out because of COVID protocols, the tournament has switched to a shootout format the next three days.

“Shannon [Blacher] gives maximum effort in practice,” Broncos coach Shannon Spanos said. “That transitions so well to the court. Shannon plays both ends of the court. She’s our best defender and she can create offensively, so to have her in that role, when she can go both ends, is great.”

Blacher, an athletic wing who can seemingly offer everything on the floor, scored 10 points in the first quarter and finished with 17 points and four rebounds.

“My favorite part in the offense is to drive and kick to an open shooter,” Blacher said. “Because I just love having a good pass turn into a made shot.”

“Playing with Shannon is pretty great,” Broncos sophomore Alyssa Epps said. “When she’s open, you know you’ve got to get it to her.”

The Broncos received plenty of offense in Monday’s game. Sawyer White had 10 points, Sam Mogilinsk eight points, Victoria Matulevicius had eight points and six rebounds, while Epps herself had 10 points and three rebounds.

“Alyssa has improved so much in just maturity and her skills from last year,” Spanos said. “She has just stepped up really nicely into the role that she is now, which is she gets rebounds, she goes after loose balls, she finishes at the rim, super on defense, and is again, willing to play both ends of the court.”

St. Francis (9-3) turned in the rare off night. Dolly Smith had four points, while Katie Anne De Craene had five points in the tough night that saw 20 turnovers.

“We just got to re-group and come back tomorrow with better effort,” St. Francis coach Jeff Gerdeman said. “Better effort and better execution…we’ve had a good season until today. Today is our low point and we we got to re-group and come tomorrow.”