NORMAL – Kiara Lewis carried Young for most of this season, so it was fitting that her teammates lifted her up moments after the Dolphins secured the Class 4A girls basketball state championship Saturday.
After missing all of last season with a knee injury, Lewis, a sophomore, scored 20 points to lead Young to a 60-44 victory at Redbird Arena on the campus of Illinois State University
The Dolphins (32-3) opened and closed their season with wins over Rolling Meadows. The Dolphins defeated the Mustangs 54-40 on Dec. 7.
"I just came out real intense, and I wanted a state championship after what happened last year and not being able to play," Lewis said. "I came out strong. The whole weekend we came out fast and strong."
Young won its final 16 games to win the program's third state championship and second in 3 years.
Although Young's state title run didn't match the 2011-2012 undefeated season, the Dolphins put on a memorable 2-day show.
Young knocked off defending champion Marian Catholic 60-20 in a semifinal Friday, then led 8-0 and 20-9 on Saturday.
The Dolphins' interior size and quickness on the perimeter slowed down the Mustangs' high-octane offense.
Rolling Meadows shot 2-for-15 in the first quarter and 4-for-30 in the half.
Montini 57, Joliet Catholic 44: Montini coach Jason Nichols had the best seat in the house Saturday for his team's shower of 3-pointers.
The Broncos made sure their last game in Class 3A – at least for a few years – would be memorable.
The Broncos took advantage of a soft spot in Joliet Catholic 1-3-1 zone to hit the majority of their 11 3-pointers in front of their bench during a victory over Joliet Catholic in the Class 3A state title game at Redbird Arena.
Montini shot 11-for-20 from the 3-point line, with Kelly Karlis (16 points) making four 3s and Lea Kerstein (13 points) and Kateri Stone (12 points) each hitting three.
Thanks to the IHSA's new success advancement formula, Montini will play in Class 4A beginning next season.
"We saw a tendency in their defenses, and we used our bigger kids to that side," Nichols said. "We did a little bit of shifting to there, and our girls had easier looks off that. ... We put shooter to shooter on the same side. That's where they have a tendency to shift their smaller girls, and that's where we shifted."
Montini (34-2) won its fourth state title in 5 years after placing third last season.
The Broncos defeated two of the Class 4A semifinalists, Marian Catholic and Rolling Meadows, this season and lost by nine to Young.