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Batavia girls basketball falls to host Montini

LOMBARD – The Batavia girls basketball team wanted a crack at Montini.

The Bulldogs had their chance, and didn’t much care for the experience.

It was a rough afternoon Thursday for the Bulldogs, who fell to the powerhouse Broncos, 66-42, in the second round of the Montini Christmas Tournament.

“We knew things were going to get tougher for us once we advanced out of that first round into the winners bracket,” Bulldogs coach Kevin Jensen said. “But that’s why I jumped at the chance to get into this tournament when [Montini coach Jason Nichols] contacted me and asked if I wanted in. I said yes right away. This tournament was going to prepare us for our conference play.”

The Bulldogs will continue tournament play at 3 p.m. today against Romeoville.

With Montini boasting frontcourt players who were 6-foot-4, 6-2 and 6-1, the Bulldogs (11-6) knew they were going to be in for a tough battle from the very beginning against the three-time defending state champions. Montini jumped out to an early 18-8 lead and forced Batavia into altering almost every shot the visitors put up at the basket.

The second quarter did not show any signs of change for Batavia, and the Broncos eventually stretched their lead to 36-18 as the teams entered halftime.

“That is what we are trying to do by being in a tournament like this, is get better,” Jensen said. “Our goal is to have one of our real good games against a real good team. We have our work cut out for us in this tournament, that’s for sure.”

The third quarter saw Batavia step up its defensive pressure against Montini, forcing six Bronco turnovers while only allowing 14 points.

The problem for the Bulldogs was they could only muster six points for the quarter as they fell behind 50-24 entering the final eight minutes of play.

“We can play pretty good defense when we are playing our game and are focused and communicating well as a team,” Jensen said. “We have enough size to match up with most teams we face. To beat the top teams, we have to maintain a high level of play for 32 minutes; not just flashes here and there.”

The fourth quarter was the Bulldogs’ best of the game as they outscored Montini, 18-16, and converted on 7-of-9 free-throw attempts.

“We are used to scoring in the 50s so this was a bit strange for us tonight,” said Bulldogs senior guard Sami Villarreal, who scored 11 points. “We did not get the ball inside enough to be more effective on offense.”

Hannah Frazier also tallied 11 for Batavia, which continues tournament play at 3 p.m. today against Romeoville.

After the lopsided win, Montini coach Jason Nichols was pleased with the competition his team got from the Bulldogs.

“Batavia makes you work hard out there,” Nichols said. “Batavia has a lot of good young talent, and they are going to be good every year.”

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