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Cougars gets second shot at mighty Montini

Updated: April 30, 2013 5:35PM

A year ago, right after Montini clubbed Vernon Hills 56-38 to win its third straight Class 3A state championship, those in the know added a third item to the list of guarantees in life:

Death. Taxes. A Vernon Hills/Montini rematch in this year’s state playoffs.

On Friday at noon at Illinois State University in Normal, it will come to pass, this time in the semifinals of the tournament.

The rematch was a lock because both clubs advanced to last year’s state final with a roster of star players who all returned this winter.

The records reflect as much: Montini is 34-1 and Vernon Hills 30-2.

And though every indicator points to a Montini win on Friday, there is a path — however small — to victory for the Cougars.

Here’s where it leads.

In five tourney games, Montini has won by an average of 38 points. It hasn’t had a close game (defined as 20 points or less) all month, which means the Mustangs haven’t felt any tourney pressure.

How they will react if pressured is an unknown.

Also, Montini likes to score a lot and doesn’t like to play in the 40s, which is where Vernon Hills always plays.

Montini’s 6-1 when scoring in the 40s, and its victory margins have been 7, 5, 11, 4, 5 and 15.

Those are margins Vernon Hills can overcome.

The Montini players to neutralize are Kateri Stone, a 6-1 junior who is the team’s leading scorer at 11.7, and Malayhna Johnson, a 6-4 senior who will go head-to-head with Vernon Hills senior center Meri Bennett-Swanson.

Montini wins by so many points that everybody on the team scores.

The Mustangs’ loss was to Peoria Richwoods 45-34 in December.

You could say they’re overdue to lose.

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