Benet coach Joe Kilbride could not have written a better script for Friday night's championship game of the Benet and Naperville North holiday basketball tournament.
Not only did the Redwings start fast against Naperville North, but they also threw in a 23-0 run that allowed Kilbride to go to his bench early and often in a 60-26 defeat of the Huskies. Fifteen players saw action for the champs, including Katie Jaseckas, who was named tourney MVP after a 19-point, 8-rebound performance.
"It's really nice right before Christmas break to let everybody go home with a sweaty uniform and something to talk about at Christmas," Kilbride said after the Redwings improved to 13-1 on the year. "The kids, they're all working hard every day; giving up a lot. So it's really nice when you get them just to get some run in here right before the holidays."
Junior Tsimba Malonga came out on fire, tallying 17 of her game-high 20 points in the first half. Her first-half total equaled that of the Naperville North team as Benet led 36-17 at the break.
"Coach told me to try and create more shots for myself," she said. "I'm shooting pretty well this season, so he wants me get more shots for myself. I tried to do what he wanted me to do and my shot was just falling."
The Redwings led 15-4 after one quarter and 25-8 after a Malonga basket midway through the second quarter. The Huskies fought back to within 27-17 with the help of 3-pointers from Morgan Lockridge and Kara Rivard. But that's when the hosts went on a 23-0 run that spanned parts of the second and third quarters and gave the Redwings a 50-17 margin.
"As well as we played against Lake Park, when you come into Benet Academy, two-time defending state champions, you can't have an off night," Huskies coach Jason Dycus said. "We cut it to 10, and then they respond right back. That's what great teams do."
Dycus was impressed with several of Benet's players, but his team had no answers for the combo of Malonga and Jaseckas, which combined for 39 points and 16 rebounds.
"They beat you in transition. They beat you from 3. They beat you inside with Jaseckas, and Tsimba's a really good complement to her," he said after his team dropped to 6-6 on the year. "They just beat you a multitude of ways. I tip my hat to them. They're a classy group of people. They're a great team and they're a team we can learn from."
Lockridge paced the Huskies with 9 points, while Rivard, Nikki Kwilosz and Lauren Platou each also connected on 3s.
Jaseckas, who was all smiles with her MVP trophy in hand, likes what she's seen from her team so far this winter. "Our whole team was phenomenal today. Everyone brought their hardest," she said. "It's been a real fun senior year so far, and I'm excited to see the rest. I'm really grateful."