2017-'18 Season Coverage
updated: 12/31/2016 12:08 AM

Benet runs out of time in title game vs. Simeon

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By Kevin McGavin
Daily Herald Correspondent

PONTIAC -- In possibly the deepest and most talented field in the history of the fabled Pontiac Holiday Tournament, Benet nearly achieved the impossible.

Falling behind 12-time tournament champion Simeon by 18 points in the second quarter, the Redwings mounted a courageous comeback.

Unanimous first-team all-tournament selection Jack Nolan twice made it a one-possession game in the waning moments, but the Wolverines prevailed 52-50 to claim their latest holiday boys basketball title.

"I think our kids showed a tremendous amount of toughness to fight back," Benet coach Gene Heidkamp said. "We had to grind it out. We had to put together some stops. I'm disappointed with the result, but I'm pleased with the effort."

With Benet (11-3) trailing 44-38 with less than 90 seconds to play, Nolan converted a pair of free throws and stole the ball on the ensuing Simeon possession for a gorgeous reverse layup.

Simeon, which extended its season-long winning streak to 11 games, was suddenly only up 44-42.

"That was all Justin (Enochs)," Nolan said of the theft. "I just jumped the passing lane."

Antwan Campbell had a critical putback to double the Simeon lead only to see Nolan can an NBA-distance 3-pointer while draped in heavy traffic.

There were 15-plus seconds remaining when Nolan made it 48-47.

But star Simeon guard Evan Gilyard, who matched the 20 points Nolan totaled for game-scoring honors, hit four free throws in the coming seconds.

Nolan hit his final of a tournament-record 21 3-pointers at the buzzer to account for the final score.

"I am really lucky to have the teammates that I have," Nolan said. "We found ourselves as a team."

Gilyard, bound for UTEP, was electrifying for the Wolverines as Simeon scored 28 of the first 38 points of the game.

"I wasn't looking to score," Gilyard said. "I was looking to create offense from my defense. We knew we had to stop (Nolan) to win the game. Everything they do goes through him."

"He's a tremendous player," Heidkamp said of Gilyard. "If you look at points off turnovers and second-chance points, that's the difference in the game."

But the Redwings responded to their early predicament by holding Simeon scoreless for extended periods.

Perimeter shooting is the capstone of the program.

Four Benet players connected from beyond the arc to spearhead the comeback effort.

In addition to the four Nolan converted, Liam Lyman had two 3-pointers in scoring 11 points.

David Bruh connected on both of his attempts for the Redwings.

Matthew Taglia had the last of the Redwings' 10 3-pointers.

Thirty of the 46 Benet shots attempted in the game were fired from beyond the arc.

Simeon (11-0) led 29-21 at halftime.

In the Redwings' 48-42 victory over Danville in the semifinals, the Benet recipe for success was in full flavor.

Benet had a grand total of 2 conventional field goals in the first three quarters.

The Redwings ended the game with more 3-pointers (9) than inside-the-arc buckets (6).

"Attempting more 3s than 2s is not that uncommon for us," Heidkamp said. "Our style is more of a half-court defensive style."

Five of the 6 field goals Nolan connected on against Danville came from 3-point territory.

"It's just the nature of our team," Nolan said of the Redwings' perimeter-based attack.

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