Tsimba Malonga missed her first five shots in Tuesday's Class 4A East Aurora girls basketball sectional semifinal. It didn't matter.
"I knew if I wasn't doing more offensively, I could do something defensively," the Benet point guard said after finishing with 19 points in the Redwings' 54-39 victory against Yorkville. "I tried helping my team turn the ball over, get steals, stuff like that. But I knew offensively if my shot isn't falling, keep on shooting. If Coach (Joe Kilbride) tells me to stop shooting I'll stop shooting, but Coach never told me to stop shooting so I kept on shooting. That's the mentality I have."
It was the right mentality for top-seeded Benet (27-4), which will meet No. 7 Plainfield East at 7 p.m. Thursday in the sectional final.
The Redwings fell behind 7-2 midway through the first quarter, but they took the lead for good on a basket by freshman Brooke Schramek as part of a 9-point run late in the first.
Still, Malonga hadn't quite found the range on her shot. By halftime Benet led 29-20 and Malonga had 8 points.
"She's attacking and creating for other people for us," Kilbride said. "She makes us go. Our press is because she's taking your best ballhandler out of it. She did a nice job tonight."
Yorkville (26-3), the No. 4 seed, had problems against the Malonga-led Benet press all night, just as so many other teams have this season. The Foxes turned the basketball over 22 times in the game.
"It's very difficult because you can't simulate it," Yorkville coach Kim Wensits said. "We don't have five kids who can go out there and trap, trap. We tried putting six people on defense, seven people on defense. But we don't have the speed and the size and athleticism like those kids. So it's very difficult."
Benet took its first double-digit lead of the game when Malonga started the third quarter with a 3-pointer, making the score 32-20. Yorkville quickly cut the lead to 7, but a Malonga basket at the 3:12 mark of the third quarter put the margin in double digits to stay.
"She had a great game today," Benet senior Emma Lyne said of Malonga. "That's how we like to play, we just let her attack and stuff and we know that if she misses shots she'll keep going. She'll get it back on defense."
Senior center Katie Jaseckas just missed a double-double for Benet with 9 points and 12 rebounds. She also had 4 steals.
Junior Lauren Daffenberg and senior Audrey Macciomei scored 9 apiece for Yorkville.