Friday’s nonconference showdown between the Fenwick girls basketball team and Montini could have justifiably been billed as a “battle between state champions.” After all, the Friars’ incredible girls hoops pedigree includes state titles in 2001 and 2007 augmented by four additional top three state finishes since 2000. Amazingly, the Broncos’ recent resume is even more impressive as current Class 3A two-time defending state champs.

In the end, the senior-laden experience and talent of Fenwick couldn’t quite match up with Montini’s dazzling combination of youth, depth and athleticism as the Broncos pulled out a 53-47 win in Oak Park.

Trailing 9-7 with 3:15 left in the first quarter, the Friars (20-7) went on a 17-6 run to seize a 25-15 lead, capped off by Paige Corvino’s three-pointer. Montini (24-5) responded with a 14-3 spurt to regain the lead momentarily before the Friars’ Meredith Boardman scored on a midrange jumper just before the halftime buzzer providing Fenwick a 30-29 lead.

The third quarter belonged to the Broncos as center Tianna Brown netted an inside bucket to put Montini ahead 34-33. From there, the Broncos never looked back as six players scored during the period which ended with Montini up 46-36.

With the Broncos leading 51-40 with 3:05 remaining in the game, the Friars made one final push. Jade Owens and Maya Garland scored consecutive buckets and Boardman added a free throw to pull Fenwick within 51-45 at the 1:05 mark. Marek Burchett misfired on a long distance trey with 20 seconds remaining that essentially sealed the Friars’ fate.

“We came out strong but Montini definitely jumped on us in the middle quarters,” Boardman said. “We wanted a balanced inside-outside game to attack the holes in their [2-3] zone. Obviously, we wished a couple more shots could have fallen for us. Playing against Montini definitely prepares us for our upcoming conference games.”

Burchett led Fenwick with 14 points while the Yale-bound Boardman contributed 12 points and seven rebounds. Corvino and Owens chipped in six points and five points, respectively, for the Friars who struggled offensively on the night. The typically up tempo team made only 16 of 55 shots, including 5-of-24 from three-point land.

“We’re used to getting off like 70 or 80 shots a game and [tonight] we had 55,” Fenwick coach Dave Power said. “That’s not going to cut it. I think the key to the game was Montini zoned us defensively, and we just didn’t knock shots down.”

Brown paced Montini with a game-high 18 points (9-for-9 field goals) and seven rebounds. The Broncos, who feature seven underclassmen on their roster, also received solid efforts from second-year players Kateri Stone (8 points, 10 rebounds) and Jasmine Lumpkin (11 points, 6 rebounds).

Despite the loss, the Friars celebrated Senior Night, recognizing the contributions of their seven seniors.

“Senior Night is very cool,” Burchett said. “It’s great to know how much people care for us and the effort they put into making this a special night.”

On Saturday night, the Friars bounced back with a 57-43 win over Providence in East Suburban Catholic Conference action. Boardman finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds, while Owens had 11 points. The win marked the 18th-straight season where Fenwick accumulated 20 or more victories.

The Friars, who are 6-1 in the ESCC, host Marist on Wednesday (Feb. 8, 7 p.m.) and Marian Catholic on Saturday (2:30 p.m.) in the regular season finale.