Boys basketball: Montini can’t quite close out state-ranked Christ the King in sectional semifinal

Gladiators ride 16-0 to come-from-behind 45-35 win

Montini senior Maddox Shepherd

ELMHURST – For the second time this season, Montini had a massively talented Christ the King team on the ropes Wednesday.

But once again, the Broncos just couldn’t finish.

Spurred on by a 16-0 run that carried on through a majority of the fourth quarter, the top-seeded Gladiators notched a 45-35 come-from-behind victory over the Broncos in a Class 2A Timothy Christian Sectional semifinal.

Leading 18-15 at half, Montini (15-19) pushed the lead to five late in the third quarter on a steal and lay-up by Maddox Sheperd. But that would be the Broncos’ final points until just over one minute remained in the game.

Sheperd led Montini with 14 points.

”They are just a good team,” said Sheperd, who also contributed three steals. “We came out hard but they finished the game well. This year, the fourth quarter usually has been good for us but their guys are really good. I’m proud of my team.

”Losing to them twice is tough but I’d rather lose to them than to some team that isn’t better than us. This is one of the toughest teams I’ve been a part of, we are all heart. We came up short but this is a group I’ll never forget.”

Tyler Pavlik scored all seven of his points in the third quarter, knocking down back-to-back three-pointers. Danny Petersen added six points for the Broncos, which dropped a 70-59 decision to Christ the King back on Dec. 26 after also having a small lead in the fourth.

Calvin Worsham had 13 points and Christian Buford totaled 10 for the Gladiators (30-4), who were ranked fourth in the final Associated Press Class 2A statewide poll.

”Our defense is something we’ve done well all year,” Montini coach Adam DeMong said. “Our 2-3 zone is tricky, especially in the playoffs. We just didn’t find the right spots in the second half and they made more baskets.

”Our problem all year has been offense. We stopped them enough tonight, we just didn’t score enough. We had played with confidence and then all of a sudden, we played differently. I thought in crunch time, we’d elevate our game but we kind of stayed flat. We did everything you could do to beat them except score enough.”

The Broncos, who won seven games a year ago, had captured their third regional championship in a row with a 46-43 win over Northridge Prep last Friday.

”What I’m most proud is we are building a program, not just a team,” DeMong said. “This school had not won a regional (in boys basketball) in 39 years and now we’ve won three straight. These seniors have left a legacy at the school.”