Benet falls to Marian Catholic
The talented visitors led much of the night, yet they were constantly frustrated because the home team was doing, well, what the home team always does.
A state-ranked Marian Catholic squad came to Lisle Friday night and led Benet for much the game. The Spartans did eventually win the East Suburban Catholic Conference showdown 77-68. But the Redwings hung around and hung around and actually trailed just 55-54 early in the fourth quarter before faltering late against the Spartans' relentless pressure defense.
In the end Benet was done in by 25 turnovers, many of which turned into quick points on the other end by a Spartans squad that improved to 23-3 on the year and 7-0 in the ESCC.
"We played hard and we kept playing through a lot of mistakes," Redwings coach Gene Heidkamp told reporters after a long postgame meeting with his players. "Those turnovers were our downfall. Their pressure really bothered us and a lot of the turnovers were forced turnovers."
The Spartans led 24-18 after making 8 of 11 shots in the first quarter and opened a 38-24 lead before Benet went on an 8-0 run to close the half down 38-32. Joe Green had 26 points for Marian Catholic to lead all scorers, but Ahron Ulis had 23 and Chris White 17.
The Redwings, however, kept battling back to scare the visitors, even with forward Kendrick Tchoua slowed by foul trouble. Tchoua had three fouls in the first half and picked up No. 4 early in the second half but still managed to lead his team with 18 points. He was one of four Redwings (18-7, 5-2) to score in double figures.
"That was a frustrating game," Spartans coach Mike Taylor said. "Benet played like Benet does. They fight, they're strong and they get the ball where they want to. They never lost their composure, really."
Bennett Hickey scored 8 of his 12 points in the third quarter as the Redwings closed the gap to 53-50 heading into the final period. Hickey's only bucket of the fourth quarter followed a layup by teammate Colin Crothers and closed the gap to 55-54 before the turnover bug hit the hosts again.
"We're never going to quit," said Hickey, a 6-foot guard. "Especially since us seniors only have so many games left. We've got to always give it everything we have."
But on this night, it was not quite enough.
"We needed all the contributions we could get," Hickey said. "They're very athletic. That's one of the better teams we'll see all year."