Slow start costs Benet
The Benet girls basketball team entered this week's East Suburban Catholic Conference tournament as the top seed thanks to an undefeated record.
But the tables turned against a spunky Marian Catholic squad in Friday's semifinal, as the Redwings found themselves down 19-4 at the conclusion of the first quarter.
Know what? They never quit, battling back to a deficit of 35-32 with seconds to go. A missed 3-pointer at the buzzer set the final score, but that wasn't the point.
It was the fight.
"We talked about a lot as a team during halftime, how we have to climb ourselves out of the hole that we made," said senior guard and Nebraska recruit Kendall Moriarty, who led Benet with 15 points. "We had to get defensive stops and score on offense and keep on doing that to chip away the score."
Added junior forward Morgan Demos, who finished with 8 points, 9 rebounds and a block: "I was just thinking there was no room to think negatively. If something bad happens, shake it off, we've got to get the next one. We knew we had to come back, and we were all very determined."
Take away that bummer of a first quarter, and the Redwings outscore the Spartans in each of the second, third and fourth periods. Instead of advancing to the ESCC tourney title game Saturday night against Marist, which destroyed Carmel, the Redwings will instead take on the Corsairs for the third-place mantle.
Benet stormed back with one final run in the fourth quarter, a 9-0 spurt to close the game, with 7 points coming off the hand of Moriarty. But neither team would score in the last 1:52, and Marian Catholic coach Dan Murray escaped with his 400th career win.
How tough was Benet in that fourth quarter? They were the primary reason the tired Spartans turned the ball over 12 times -- four times as many points as they had in the period. In fact, the Redwings held Marian Catholic scoreless in the last 5:10 of the contest.
But it wasn't meant to be.
"We dug ourselves a big hole," Benet coach Joe Kilbride said. "Give credit to Marian; they played great. We struggled shooting the ball a little tonight at the perimeter, They did a nice job in transition. I thought we cleaned a lot of that up and second half, we started chipping away.
"They kept battling and gave themselves a chance to win."
Moriarty and Demos are just happy to have one more game to play together Saturday.
"We can end on a win still, so we're hoping to pull out our last win tomorrow," Moriarty said.
"We're going to be ready," Demos added.