Montgomery is Money in Skills Challenge


Renee Montgomery posted the winning time 25.0 seconds in the final round.
Jesse D. GarrabrantNBAE/Getty Images

It’s hard to be beat when you don’t miss. And hometown favorite Renee Montgomery was perfect in her final round of the Stars at the Sun Skills Challenge, finishing the course in a record-time of 25.0 seconds.

The Skills Challenge is a test of a player’s speed, dribbling, passing and shooting ability in a race against the clock. Each contestant begins the obstacle course on the baseline. The player start the event with a layup before dribbling down the court around pylons shaped as WNBA players. Next comes the first passing station, where they have five attempts to pass the ball through the cylinder about 10 feet away.

Once the pass is complete, the player heads to the top of the key for a straight on three-point shot. Again, you have five attempts to make the shot. Once it is made, the player grabs a ball and its time to execute another pass, this one from about 18 feet away.

When the pass is successful, there are more pylons to manage and then it’s a race home as the player must complete a shot – a jumper or layup – to complete the course. The fastest time wins.

The contest opens with six players running the course and the fastest three times moving on to the final round to crown a champion. Today’s contestants were Atlanta’s Iziane Castro Marques and Angel McCoughtry, Washington’s Lindsey Harding, New York’s Cappie Pondexter, Minnesota’s Lindsay Whalen and Connecticut’s Montgomery.

The first round saw a number of players struggle with the three-point shot, which ate up a lot of time for Castro Marques, McCoughtry and Harding and ended up knocking players out of the competition.

“The hardest part was the three-point shot,” said Montgomery. “That was giving players a lot of problems, so I kept telling myself, ‘make the shot, make the shot.’

“The long pass was hard too, but it’s the three-point shot that really gets you. You have to calm down because you in a rush to get to the three-point line, so you have to slow it down and hit the shot.”

The final three contestants posted the fastest times of the round, with Pondexter at 31.3 seconds, Whalen with a perfect run of 26.6 seconds and Montgomery with a solid run at 29.4 seconds.

Cappie got things started in the second round, but a pair of missed passes put her over the 30-second mark, which would not be good enough on this day. She finished the course in 32.1 seconds to finish second.

Next up was Montgomery, who raced out of the gates and never looked back. She was crisp through the pylons, her passes were clean and her shot from downtown hit nothing but net. As she completed her final layup, the clock read 25.0 and put too much pressure on Whalen to post another perfect round. Whalen finished the course in 34.2 seconds.

Considering that Montgomery (a current Sun) and Whalen (a former Sun that spent the first six seasons of her career playing at Mohegan Sun), could there have been a home-court advantage in play here?

“I hope people don’t say that, but maybe I did have a little home-court advantage. I practice here every day,” said Montgomery. “Maybe there is a point to that, I didn’t even think about it. I don’t know, I think it’s about who hit the shots the quickest that had success.”

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