Bolingbrook surprises Benet
Bolingbrook continued its playoff assault on West suburban foes Thursday night, treating perennial state power Benet like it was just another team in the way.
Powered by a 25-10 run between the third and fourth quarters, the Raiders dominated the second half en route to a 68-54 victory in the Redwings' home gym.
"I thought they made some shots and we missed some shots," Benet coach Joe Kilbride said. "We didn't get to the rim and didn't finish at times. It wasn't any one thing. They made shots -- and a lot of tough shots. We missed some shots we often make. It just didn't happen tonight."
After making six 3-pointers in the first half, including five in the first quarter, the Redwings made just two in the second half, as Bolingbrook closed out hard on Benet's prolific shoots.
The Raiders also protected the ball, committing no turnovers in the third quarter and two the entire second half. They often scored in transition off Benet misses.
"They change ends really well," Kilbride said of Bolingbrook. "You miss three (shots) in a row, and if you're hitting the glass like we were, now those three are run-outs. Us missing shots gave them more transition opportunities."
Many of those opportunities were converted by standout Raiders senior Jayden Marable, who finished with a game-high 24 points.
Marable, an NIU recruit, showed off her entire arsenal on the evening, scoring at the rim, through traffic and over defenders on short jumpers.
"There were a lot of open gaps to attack, and I just stayed in attack mode," Marable said.
Marable also converted all five of her fourth-quarter free-throw attempts, a microcosm of Bolingbrook's late-game efficiency.
The Raiders went 16 of 20 at the line in the second half after going just 4 of 9 in the first half.
"One of our Achilles' heels all season has been the lack of free throws and layups," Bolingbrook coach Christopher Smith said, "and to come in that second half when the game was on the line and make those free throws like we did was once again a testament to the capabilities this team has."
Benet senior Kendall Holmes did all she could to keep her team within an arm's reach of the Raiders.
Holmes seemed to be her team's only second-half option. With star teammate Brooke Schramek, a Wisconsin commit, on the bench with a hamstring injury, Holmes scored 7 of her team's 9 third-quarter points and added 5 more in the fourth. The DePaul recruit finished with a team-high 22.
Though the production wasn't enough, Holmes was proud of her team's late effort.
"We're gonna fight to the end," she said. "No matter the score there's always a chance to come back. ... It just didn't work out for us tonight, but we never give up."
Benet ran out to an early lead thanks to hot shooting, as the Redwings used a drive-and-kick strategy to find open shooters and go up 19-15 after one quarter of play.
But the Raiders hung around, and a buzzer-beating 3 by Marable tied the game at 29-29 at halftime.
Out of the break, the two teams traded baskets until Benet's offense seemed to stall midway through the third.
Bolingbrook kept adding pressure, and the Redwings began to force shots.
"I thought we got down and got, not frantic exactly but, a little impatient, a little hurried," Kilbride said. "And Holmes was awesome. I thought a bunch of them played well, but other than Holmes we had a hard time making shots today against good defense."
Benet still had a puncher's chance down 10 with three minutes to go, but Marable converted what was essentially a five-point play when she made a basket and converted three free throws -- one for a foul on her basket and two more on a Benet technical foul.
The Redwings season ended with a record of 29-3, the only other Illinois loss coming to Lake Forest at the Montini holiday tournament semifinals.
And if it had to end, Kilbride was happy to see his team going down swinging. They scored four baskets and forced two turnovers in the final two minutes.
"This group has been great all year long in terms of their grit, continuing to play when things are going bad," he said. "I thought they did that today. We just couldn't quite get it going on offense. ... And we're a better team than that."