2017-'18 Season Coverage
updated: 12/29/2016 11:05 PM

Benet wins 'war of attrition' against Rolling Meadows

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By Chris Walker
Daily Herald Correspondent

Rolling Meadows simply would not go away.

Fortunately for Benet, time simply ran out on the Mustangs, and the Redwings escaped with a 51-50 victory in Thursday's semifinal game at the eighth annual Montini Christmas Tournament.

Benet (16-1) advanced to face the host Broncos in Friday's championship game.

"They really run the floor hard, with intentionality too, and it's hard to play three games in three days, four games in four days, particularly at this level," Benet coach Joe Kilbride said. "It's not like you're playing and winning by 50 (points), so it takes a toll on the kids and I think a little bit of that happened.

"People extended some energy and got a cushion out of that energy and then they take a breath and the other guys are now charging right back art you. It felt like a war of attrition."

The game appeared to be in Benet's hands as it led 50-41 with 33 seconds left, but a Kyra Spiwak 3-pointer made it 50-44.

Benet junior Tsimba Malonga split a pair of free throws, which proved to be the difference, with 21 seconds left.

A three-point play by Katherine Nolan with 12 seconds left then made it 51-47. The Mustangs had point guard Malonga cornered on the ensuing inbounds play, but Benet called a timeout after burning a few seconds off the clock.

Then the Redwings turned it over, and Melissa Spiwak's 3-pointer from the top of the key made it a 51-50 game, but the buzzer sounded shortly after her shot trickled through the net.

"I just wish we would've done a better job of closing this one out," Rolling Meadows coach Ryan Kirkorsky said. "Credit Benet, though. They are just relentless and skilled with 10 to 12 kids playing. They wear you down with their depth, but I'm still extremely proud of our kids."

The Redwings jumped to a 9-1 lead but never really pulled away, although they led from start to finish.

They led 37-33 after three quarters when senior Emma Lyne briefly took over.

"She's a senior leader and it's sort of like she's a Swiss Army knife," Kilbride said. "You can ask her to play anywhere."

Lyne drained a 3-pointer in the opening minute of the fourth quarter and sank another one with 6:55 left to make it a 43-33 game.

"My teammates found me in some good spots and I was just fortunate to be pretty wide open for those," she said. "We always try to be patient, but once we find a good shot, we'll take it. Tonight we tried to go in and out and it worked well."

Lyne scored 11 points while Katie Jaseckas led the Redwings with 15. They enjoyed a 37-29 rebounding edge and took advantage of second-chance opportunities on several occasions to maintain their lead.

"We lost some people from last year who were good scorers, defenders and leaders," Lyne said. "So as seniors we've had to step up and I think we've done that pretty well so far."

Kyra Spiwak did just about everything she could for the Mustangs, scoring 24 points and grabbing 8 rebounds.

"I think she's one of the most underrated high school players around," Kilbride said. "That kid is really good."

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