Benet's defense clamps down on Carmel
Getting off to a slow start was a bad omen for host Carmel Catholic when the Corsairs faced Benet Academy Friday night in East Suburban Catholic Conference boys basketball action.
The visiting Redwings stormed ahead to a 13-0 lead right out of the gates as Benet's Brady Kunka scored the first 7 points of the contest.
Carmel did make a third-quarter surge to pull to within 7 points,But that would be as close as the Corsairs would get as Benet (6-1, 2-0) pulled away the rest of the way for a convincing 52-34 victory.
A rebound dunk by Carmel's Bryce Moore cut the lead to 15-4 after one quarter while Kunka scored 9 of his game-high 21 points in the first half to give the Redwings a 21-11 lead at halftime.
Carmel (7-5, 1-2) did cut the lead to 29-22 on an inside hoop by Moore midway through the third quarter. But Benet would still take a fairly comfortable 39-27 lead into the fourth quarter.
"You can't spot a good team like Benet 13 points," said Carmel coach Zack Ryan, whose team was held to 39 percent shooting from the field.
"We did some good things in the second half, but we have to figure out a way to come out stronger."
Six-foot-nine Kyle Thomas was a force at both ends of the court for Benet with 12 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 dunks. Carmel was outrebounded 22-13 while Benet only had 7 turnovers to 15 turnovers for Carmel. The Redwings shot 23-for-45 (51%) from the floor, including 5-for-12 from 3-point range.
"Carmel is an excellent basketball team and I think this was our best defensive effort all year," said Benet coach Gene Heidkamp. "Brady (Kunka) had a great game not only with his scoring, but he guarded Bryce Moore."
Carmel's Asher Jackson scored a team-high 13 points while Moore scored 9 points. Brennan White and Nikola Abusara scored 6 points each for Benet while Kaleb Jackson scored 6 points for the Corsairs.
"Heading into this game I wanted to be aggressive and take it to them early," said Kunka. "This was our best defensive performance, obviously, and we keyed in on their best two players, Jackson and Moore."
Besides Kunka's 7 points right out of the gates, Thomas threw down an alley-oop dunk to cap the Redwings' early 13-0 advantage.
Kaleb Jackson nailed a 3-pointer just as the end of the second quarter buzzer sounded to cut Benet's lead to 10 points. The third quarter was a higher scoring affair as the Redwings outscored Carmel 18-16.
"They made a run at us in the third quarter and I thought our kids did a great job of answering the run," said Heidkamp, whose team only hit 1 of 7 free throws.
"We took care of the basketball at a better rate than we have through the course of the year so I thought it was a really solid performance on both ends of the floor."