Benet dominates Plainfield East in regional final
Samantha Trimberger is the perfect fit on Benet.
The 6-foot junior provides length defensively, and can be a playmaker. She has the ability to finish near the rim. Above all else, Trimberger is an exceptional rebounder.
She showcased that particular skill in a big way Thursday.
Trimberger grabbed seven rebounds, all at the offensive end, in the first half, part of the Redwings' dominant effort on the offensive glass. Top-seeded Benet hit nine 3-pointers, scored the game's first 13 points, led by 29 at half and went on to a 65-32 win over ninth-seeded Plainfield East in the Class 4A Benet Regional final.
It's Benet's eighth straight regional title, 11th in the last 12 postseasons and 22nd since 1997. That consistency requires stars, and it also takes girls like the unassuming Trimberger who does the dirty work on the boards.
"Rebounding is something I always try to fall back on," Trimberger said. "Today my shots obviously weren't falling for me, but if I can get my own rebound and pass it off to someone else or go up again that's helping the whole team. That's something I control."
Indeed, it wasn't Trimberger's best night finishing, as she shot 2-for-8. But she showed determination, pulling down several of her own misses. On one possession, Trimberger alone had three offensive rebounds. On another, she passed up a contested shot in the paint to kick out for a Margaret Temple corner three.
Chasing offensive rebounds is a different mindset, one Trimberger has clearly embraced.
"When you're offensive rebounding it's not necessarily your goal to be boxing someone out, so you can go full force at the rim to try to get it," said Trimberger, who also had five steals. "When you can put in the effort and go it helps."
Trimberger won a starting spot last summer, but missed some time with sickness in December. She returned the day after Christmas, a big lift to a Benet team built on defense and rebounding. Benet coach Joe Kilbride compared Trimberger's fit to that of Elise Stout, a starter on his 2015 and 2016 state title teams. "Sam is one of those really important kids from the standpoint that she fits perfectly with our group," Kilbride said. "I think it was [former Boston Celtics coach] Red Auerbach that said you don't play the best five, you play the five that fit best together. She is a perfect fit for what we need."
Morgan Demos had 14 points and eight rebounds, Lenee Beaumont 13 points, five rebounds and three steals and Temple and Emilia Sularski nine points each for Benet, which moves on to face the Plainfield North/Waubonsie Valley winner in Tuesday's sectional semifinal at East Aurora.
Taylor French scored 11 points and Jocelyn Trotter eight for Plainfield East (14-14). The Bengals beat Neuqua Valley 60-46 in a regional semifinal, reversing a double-digit regular season loss to the Wildcats.
But the Bengals were overwhelmed by the combination of Benet's second-chance points and offensive rebounding. The Redwings hit 4-for-9 3-pointers in the first quarter and grabbed nine offensive rebounds to lead 22-8 after a quarter. It was 42-13 by halftime.
Beaumont hit three straight 3-pointers in the first quarter after missing her first shot, the second three giving Benet a 13-0 lead less than three minutes in. On each Beaumont shot, Kilbride yelled "bang" before it even left her hand.
Benet's rebounding, in particular, made Kilbride smile. The Redwings had 28 rebounds in the first half alone, 14 at the offensive end.