Home Sports Grant Montanari says he does ‘what’s left over.’ The Naperville North junior sells himself short. Neuqua Valley knows.

Grant Montanari says he does ‘what’s left over.’ The Naperville North junior sells himself short. Neuqua Valley knows.

by staff

Naperville North guard Grant Montanari knows he isn’t going to see his name in too many headlines anytime soon.

The 6-foot-2 junior is fine with that, as long as he’s keeping opponents from making headlines — and that’s just what he has been doing.


While junior guards Luke Williams, Bryce Welch and Cole Arl have done much of the scoring for the Huskies this season, Montanari is excelling in other areas.

“I’m just doing whatever I can do to help the team,” he said. “Luke, Bryce and Cole do a great job offensively and defensively, so I just do what’s left over.”


The leftovers are quite substantial, at least for those who know how to look for them. Montanari hangs his hat on defense and rebounding. Taking charges also is a calling card.

Montanari did all of those things to help the host Huskies upset Neuqua Valley 47-35 in a key DuPage Valley Conference game in Naperville on Friday night.

He contributed six points, a game-high seven rebounds and three steals as Naperville North (14-9, 4-2) avenged a 59-42 road loss to Neuqua Valley (16-6, 4-2) on Dec. 2.

“Grant has actually been doing those types of things all year, more tonight than ever,” Naperville North coach Gene Nolan said. “He’s the kind of player that might not always show up on a stat line, but defensively he’s so active.

“He gets defensive rebounds, and he gets to the offensive glass to get multiple possessions.”

Montanari and his teammates made sure the Wildcats didn’t have many productive possessions, holding them to their second-lowest point total of the season and 23 under their average. He was the back end of a 1-3-1 zone that was deemed “the best zone in the state” by Neuqua Valley coach Todd Sutton.

“It helps a lot when my teammates are getting deflections,” Montanari said. “Jacob (Nolen) is up there getting deflections all the time, the wings are getting deflections and I just come in there and sweep it up. And when I see the drive, I’m there to take the charge.”

Naperville North’s Jacob Nolen, left, goes for a steal against Neuqua Valley’s Chris Srbinov during a DuPage Valley Conference game in Naperville on Friday, Jan. 20, 2023.

That’s what Montanari did early in the third quarter, stepping in front of Neuqua Valley senior guard Bryan Thomas to draw a foul. The Huskies led 26-19 at that point, and Montanari’s play got a rise out of the large home crowd.


“It was great,” he said. “Especially when your teammates come over to help you up, it’s a great feeling running back down the floor and everyone is cheering you on. It’s a great momentum swing.”

Indeed, that play fired up the Huskies even more. They allowed only four points in the third quarter.

Naperville North’s Luke Williams puts up a 3-point shot during a DuPage Valley Conference game against Neuqua Valley in Naperville on Friday, Jan. 20, 2023.

“Charges are such a momentum piece to the game because not only do you get the ball back, but it’s also one more team foul on the other team and one more personal foul on the other player,” Nolan said. “We call charges ‘three-point plays’ for that reason, so him taking that in a way was a three-point play.”

Montanari also had four offensive rebounds. He attempted just three shots but made two of them — a go-ahead 3-pointer that gave Naperville North a 13-11 lead after one quarter and an inside basket at the third-quarter buzzer off a feed from junior forward Jack Kallstrand that extended the margin to 34-23.

Williams, who scored 10 of his game-high 17 points in the first quarter, wasn’t surprised.

“He’s always got his hands up,” Williams said. “He’s always getting deflections on the ball that really helps us get steals, and his defensive and offensive rebounding crashing the boards is great. He’s just a great player overall, and he’s doing his job.”


Not bad for a varsity rookie who was on the sophomore team last season.

“He’s had outstanding effort in every game,” Nolan said. “He’s just done a terrific job.”

Matt Le Cren is a freelance reporter for the Naperville Sun.

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