Benet claims win vs. Montini in OT
Officially, Benet played Montini on Monday night in the Montini Christmas Tournament third-place game.
It sure felt a lot bigger.
With neither team showing any disappointment in not advancing to the final, Benet defeated the host Broncos 57-54 in an overtime thriller between two of the state's best teams in a packed gym in Lombard.
"It was a pretty incredible game. Pretty intense and all that," said Benet junior Kendall Moriarty, who gave Benet the final lead in overtime with a 3-pointer. "It was a really fun game to be a part of."
"That's why I like coming here and what we talked about," added Benet coach Joe Kilbride. "I like to get into the final four here, because you're guaranteed two supersectional, state semi-type quality games when you get to the finals here, and that's what we got. Lake Forest kind of pulled one out on us the other night and we were in a little bit of a hole here tonight. I was really proud of our kids' resilience. I was afraid losing (Saturday) there would be such a deflation."
Overtime didn't seem likely when Montini took a 6-point lead with 45.9 seconds to play on a pair of Sydney Prochaska free throws. But Benet's Kendall Holmes hit a 3-pointer with 31.1 seconds to play, then hit another -- off balance -- just before the buzzer to send the game to an extra period. It came after the Redwings' called play didn't work.
"Kendall (Moriarty) had the ball and then I ended up being able to get open, and I kind of just let it fly," Holmes said. "I didn't exactly know how much time was left, but I was like, I need to get this up there. And I was like fading, but it went in and it was amazing."
"Holmes is clutch," Kilbride added. "You guys saw it last year. She was clutch last year, she's still clutch. And the kid's been struggling shooting the ball a little bit, but she's cold-blodded. She's ice in the veins, and that's what you love about her. You want kids who have no fear taking that shot, and it wasn't even a very good look."
That left Holmes feeling the Redwings (15-1) were destined to win.
"I was so excited for our team. I was like, we're not losing now," she said, admitting to being "shocked" the shot went in.
Montini coach Jason Nichols said his team missed defensive assignments on both of Holmes' 3-pointers in the final 31.1 seconds of regulation.
"We just went head to head with the No. 1 and No. 2 team in the state (Benet and Evanston), took them right down to the brink, but we could not capitalize because of our mental errors and our inability to hit free throws when it matters," he said. "The other day (after losing to Evanston by 1) I was excited. Today I'm not. I'm mad."
Holmes and Moriarty scored 12 points apiece to lead Benet, which also got 10 points from Allison Forney and 9 from Brooke Schramek.
"I didn't really start out strong, and I haven't been able to make my shots in the first half in a couple of these last games," said Holmes, a DePaul recruit, "but the rest of the team has been able to make just as many shots and we've been doing just fine. Kendall (Moriarty) has made some big shots. Brooke's made some big plays. Ashley (Berry), (Morgan) Demos. Allison's been playing super, super well."
Tatiana Thomas led Montini (16-2) with 22 points, and Taris Thornton added 10 points.
"Tatiana's a warrior," Kilbride said. " ... And it's not even points with her. She's one of those kids that can have 6 points and dominate the game. She's so tough."