Girls basketball: Montini fails to find its groove in loss to Hersey

Broncos can’t claw back from substantial deficit

Joe Lewnard/
Montini’s Victoria Matulevicius drives to the basket for a layup against Hersey’s Ava Harwood, left, and KiKi Craft during the Lake Zurich girls basketball shootout Tuesday.

LAKE ZURICH – Hersey sophomore point guard Kate Donovan experienced a number of highs and lows in Tuesday’s game.

A reserve on last season’s loaded Hersey team, Donovan is stepping into a bigger role this season.

She gained a first-class education handling the pressure of running an offense and playing tough defense against Montini in the Exam Jamm, held at Lake Zurich High School.

Donovan made a big impact in the game, impressing a number of college coaches with her driving ability and unflappable on-the-court personality. Donovan scored all nine of her points in the second half to spark the Huskies to a 52-46 victory over the Broncos.

Donovan played a stellar game, handling the intense on-ball pressure by Montini’s guards and coming up big in the second half with several drives and key rebounds.

“Montini has really fast and great guards, but I usually have up and down games,” Donovan said. “It’s a team sport, so you have teammates who come pick you up and help you. It’s kind of a next-play mentality. If you do one thing wrong, there’s other things you can do to give back to make up for your mistakes.”

Hersey senior center Annika Manthy, a Richmond recruit, scored a game-high 22 points, including 11 in the first quarter. Victoria Matulevicius scored 18 points and Nikki Kerstein added 12 points for the Broncos (6-3).

“We need to play a complete game,” Montini coach Shannon Spanos said. “We came out flat offensively and we looked shell-shocked on defense. In the second half, we put a lot more pressure on them and got some defensive stops and did a better job on the boards. It was just little too late.”

Joe Lewnard/
Montini’s Nicolette Kerstein drives to the basket against the defense of Hersey’s Grace Grabowy during the Lake Zurich girls basketball shootout Tuesday.

The Huskies (8-4) needed a strong performance from Donovan after nearly blowing a 17-point lead. Donovan scored three baskets in a two-plus minute span covering the end of the third quarter and start of the fourth to keep the Broncos from mounting a comeback.

She added back-to-back assists to push the lead to 45-36 with just over five minutes left in the fourth.

Hersey first-year coach Courtney Ludois said Donovan’s play on both ends of the court helped her team avoid a late-game collapse.

“People have to understand Kate is a sophomore and she didn’t play any meaningful varsity minutes last year and she has the ball in her hands 90 percent of the time,” Ludois said. “We’re all learning different roles this year, but she really has stepped up for us.”

Donovan showed her mental toughness by overcoming a spate of late turnovers in the fourth, grabbing two key rebounds and hitting three free throws in the final 30 seconds to ice the victory.

“Kate has got amazing potential and improved so much,” Manthy said. “Obviously, she didn’t get a lot of minutes last year, so it’s been incredible how much she’s progressing this year. She’s a reliable point guard we can trust.”

Bob Narang

Bob Narang is a contributing sports reporter to Shaw Local News Network