Benet returns to winners bracket at Montini
The Benet girls basketball upperclassmen have too much pride to allow a repeat of last year's opener at the Montini Christmas Tournament.
The Redwings made sure they advanced to the tournament winners bracket with a 75-53 victory Wednesday afternoon against hot-shooting Oak Park-River Forest.
"Last year we had a little setback, we ended up losing the first game," Benet junior Kendall Holmes said. "This year we wanted to turn that around and come back stronger because we knew that every team out here is good and they're going to bring their all."
"I think it's important to us because our freshman year we were both on varsity and we made it all the way to the championship game," Redwings junior Brooke Schramek added. "I just remember this is like the best tournament ever. Everyone is like, this is basically state but not as fun. It's like the best teams. The environment at the 8 p.m. games is insane, so I think a lot of us older girls are telling the younger ones, if we're in that winning bracket, it is insane to be playing in those games.
"It just makes you love the game even more, being in that environment, playing against those teams. So I think we were all just pushing it."
Holmes and Schramek each scored 17 points to lead Benet, but that wasn't all they did. Schramek added 6 assists. Holmes had 5 rebounds and 4 steals.
Freshman forward Morgan Demos came off the bench for 11 points and 3 assists, and senior forward Ashley Konkle scored 10 with 6 rebounds.
Benet (16-2) already has won two tournaments this season. Oak Park coach J.P. Coughlin likes the Redwings' chances to go 3 for 3.
Oak Park (9-8) started out hot. The Huskies made 12 of 23 shots in the first half, including 6 of 10 from the 3-point line. Still Benet led 45-32 at halftime.
"We knew that they were going to come out strong and hustle, and we just wanted to outhustle them," Holmes said.
"We're kind of the team where, if one person's energy is up here, we all will follow," Schramek added. "So I think once a few of us got our energy level up, we all just followed. And once we're all playing our best, I think we can really be unstoppable."
The Huskies started the third quarter on a 9-2 run to cut the Benet lead to 6 points.
"I think we were getting frustrated with them," Schramek said of the Huskies. "We just picked each other up, and once we get going, we get going."
Benet answered with a 16-3 run to finish the period, putting the game out of reach.
"They're phenomenal," Coughlin said. "They missed a couple of shots to start the third quarter. We shot the ball pretty well today. We'd been struggling from the floor, and we had a couple of good workouts and it showed offensively. But we're not Benet. That's a really, really good team. We're tiny, and they're loaded."
Benet plays undefeated Fremd at 8:15 p.m. Thursday.