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Kokkines takes her turn, leads Montini to regional title.

Byline: Orrin Schwarz

Friday was going to be Frankie Kokkines' night. The Montini senior guard made the most of it.

"Just the whole energy the whole day, prepping for this team, I mean, I could just feel it in myself and my team," Kokkines said. "The whole day leading up to this game I just knew I wanted to come out ready to go, make my team proud."

Kokkines scored all 6 of Montini's first-quarter points and finished with 14 points and 4 steals, leading the Broncos to the Class 4A Downers Grove North regional championship with a 42-22 victory against the host Trojans.

Montini (29-4), the No. 1 sectional seed, will play No. 4 St. Ignatius at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Hinsdale South sectional semifinals. Montini will play for its 15th consecutive sectional championship.

Montini felt it had a matchup advantage on offense with Kokkines, a 5-foot-10 Southern Illinois University recruit.

"And that was planned, trying to get her the basketball," Montini coach Jason Nichols said. "But she did some things. I mean, she literally stepped up. You can have that plan all day if the kid doesn't do her job. So give her credit. She was awesome."

Sophomore Taris Thornton took her turn in the second quarter, scoring the Broncos' first 6 points of the period.

"She was dominating," Nichols said. "Looked explosive."

Montini built a 12-point lead that Downers Grove North (22-9) cut to 7 at halftime.

"I actually was very, very worried coming into this game because they're so well-coached," Nichols said. "They're not your typical 8 seed and we had to travel on the road to come here. So I was really worried because to me that was a 6-7 seed right there that got absolutely hosed in the seeding meeting. So literally for three days my stomach's been turning because of the pace that they play at. So we had to speed them up a little bit.

"The key to them was get a lead. Once you get a lead, they've got to come back to you. If they get the lead you've got to come to them."

That 7-point halftime deficit wasn't close enough for Downers Grove North.

"I would've loved to sit at half-court and hold the ball the whole time and make them guard us," Trojans coach Stephan Bolt said, "but we went down early, so that hurt us. Took us out of our game plan a little bit."

It also hurt that the Trojans struggled with their shooting. They made 6 of 23 for the game.

"By far tonight was probably the best defensive night we've had," Kokkines said. "I was so proud of my whole team. I mean, the effort we gave for a whole 32 minutes, it was just incredible to see. I'm so proud of everyone."

Downers Grove North scored the first basket of the third quarter to pull within 5 points, but Montini took control after that, finishing the quarter with a 12-0 run. The Montini lead reached 26 points in the fourth quarter.

Junior Alexis Parker led Downers Grove North with 8 points. Junior point guard Ellie Gross assisted on the Trojans' first five baskets and grabbed 4 rebounds.

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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Date:Feb 16, 2019
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