The 27th annual Subway Classic at Willowbrook once again brought out the worst in Benet Monday.
And the best.
For the second straight year, the two-time defending Class 4A girls basketball champion overcame a double-digit halftime deficit to defeat a strong opponent. This time the Redwings edged Bradley-Bourbonnais 43-42 after trailing 23-10 at halftime.
A driving Lauren Stack took a pass from Kendal Schramek and scored the game-winning basket for Benet (18-2) with 43.2 seconds left. The Redwings missed the front end of one-and-bonus free throws with 7.6 and 3.4 seconds left but survived a desperation half-court shot at the buzzer.
Bradley-Bourbonnais (17-2) had won 17 straight -- 15 by double digits -- since losing its opener to Montini 73-26 Nov. 17.
"At halftime we really just said it's not about the Xs and Os, it's about the fight in the dog," Schramek said. "We just had to come back and press harder. We needed that energy and that juice. It showed in the second half."
Stack had 9 of her 11 points in the second half. Katie Jaseckas had 13 points, and 7 rebounds and Clara Prasse had 6 points on huge back-to-back 3-pointers in the third quarter.
Bradley-Bourbonnais senior and DePaul recruit Vinisha Sherrod had 13 points, senior point guard Kennedy Weight had 15 points and junior Mikayla Brandon had 11 rebounds.
"It was all just grit, determination, effort," Benet coach Joe Kilbride said. "We just got after them in the third quarter and were able to get enough turnovers, pace to the game."
Last year the Redwings played twice at the Classic, losing to Homewood-Flossmoor on a buzzer-beater but also defeating Indiana's top-ranked team, Homestead of Fort Wayne, 58-55 after trailing by 19 at the half.
On Monday they took their first lead at 31-29 entering the fourth quarter. Ali Kramer scrambled for a loose ball and found Emma Lyne, who passed to Schramek to score just before the buzzer.
"Our thing here is we dig a huge hole in the first half," Kilbride said. "That (half) was bad. They're a good team and we were flat and careless with the ball."
The nightmare first half was arguably the worst during Kilbride's three seasons as coach. The Redwings made just 5 of 23 shots with no free throws and had 14 turnovers on 32 possessions. After an 8-8 first quarter, the Boilers scored the first 11 points of the second quarter while Sherrod wreaked havoc at the top of a 1-2-2 zone press.
Six Benet points came from three Jaseckas baskets, one off her steal and another a putback.
"(At halftime) Katie Jaseckas really stepped up as a leader and told us we need to play like we know how to play. We had only 10 points. That's not very good," Stack said. "I was really motivated by her energy and her desire to win so much that I picked up my defense and I think we all picked up everything."
The offense got going after Jaseckas and Lyne nailed the team's first 3s early in the third quarter. Prasse, recently back from a foot injury, hit her 3s off Schramek passes in the final 1:27 of the period to tie the game at 29.
"Very big," Kilbride said. "Before she went out, she was our second leading scorer. She's feeling much better and you can tell."
The Boilermakers had 17 turnovers in the second half but also showed fight down the stretch. Benet pulled ahead 41-35 with 2:24 left but Sherrod's three-point play cut the deficit to 41-40 with 1:35 to go. Sherrod then stole a pass near the top of the key for a layup that put Bradley in front 42-41 with 58.7 seconds left.
"Obviously, we didn't handle their pressure very well. They picked up the pressure, started trapping all over the floor. Ultimately we just need to use this to learn," Bradley-Bourbonnais coach Evan Tingley said. "Credit to them. They trapped us all over the place. They did a good job."
Bradley-Bourbonnais and Benet could meet in the Class 4A Bloomington supersectional. One of Bradley's top Normal sectional foes will be Rock Island, which beat Benet 44-38 Dec. 3. Montini topped Benet 59-43 Dec. 30 in the Montini Christmas Tournament championship game.