Just when the outlook looked tremendously bleak, Benet pulled out their gutsiest performance of the season.
Down as many as five points with just four minutes to go, the Redwings turned the tide in all facets of the game before eventually taking the lead for good courtesy of Kendall Holmes three pointer for a 71-66 win.
“Honestly, I can’t tell you if I had [made a game winner], but if tonight’s the night I’ll take it,” said Holmes. “Everybody made contributions to help our team and we got the win.”
“That wasn’t the play call, she read it and made a play and thankfully Lauren (Stack) made a play too,” said Benet head coach joe Kilbride. “It didn’t surprise me because going into the fourth quarter they hadn’t run anything I called yet but they just started making plays and that was a big one.”
With the talent on the floor, the contest could have easily been mistaken as a sectional championship.
Simeon started out as the aggressors early, utilizing their size to their advantage by crashing the offensive glass and scoring on put backs.
Khaniah Gardner was especially impressive for the Wolverienes as she was unfazed by Benet’s length and scored 28 points while securing 10 rebounds.
“They just dominated the boards,” said Kilbride. “I kept telling the kids we should have 10 feet in the paint at all times because it was all jump hooks a put backs and they’re very good at it.”
Through three quarters, Simeon had a dominating advantage on the glass which was by and large the reason they maintained a lead throughout.
However, after a slow start to the fourth quarter, Benet slowly cleaned up their mistakes the plagued them early in the game and chipped away at the lead.
The Redwings took a page out of Simeon’s book and attacked the basket late in the quarter to get to the free throw line 18 times in the frame, fouling our Annesah Morrow (seven points, 11 rebounds) and Jada Thorpe (14 points, four assists) in the process.
Despite all of the foul trouble, Simeon continued to fight and hold onto the lead until a mini run sparked by Holmes (20 points) and Clara Prasse (15 points) saw Benet tie the game up.
“Prasse is an absolute Warrior,” said Kilbride. “You could see from the beginning when she’s attacking, she was basically showing our girls that we can get to the rim, don’t be afraid and keep attacking them.”
With less than a minute to go, Holmes would hit her go ahead three pointer, and although Simeon got a quick bucket to bring it within one point, Benet held their nerve at the free throw line, while Ashley Konkle didn’t allow any future second chance opportunities by coming up with some big rebounds down the stretch.
“Konkle got two huge rebounds at the end, we weren’t finishing possessions, Lindsey Rogers came in, had her best game of the year, we needed her today and I’m just so proud of the kids,” said Kilbride.
Benet will go on to face Whitney Young in the sectional semi-finals at Hinsdale South, and with potential matchups with the likes of Montini looming St. Ignatius, getting thrown into the deep end against a state final contender like Simeon goes a long way.
“Our sectional is very tough, and honestly it’s big for us. I laid it out for the kids, we’re going to have to play back, to back, to back, really good games,” concluded Kilbride. “I think we can beat anybody it’s just can you beat them all four in a row.”
Sectionals will begin next Tuesday, with game times scheduled for 6:00 and 7:30.