Sularski's hot shooting pushes Benet past Naperville North
After swishing a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer against undefeated Naperville North Monday night, Benet sophomore guard Emilia Sularski was mobbed by her teammates near half-court.
Starting in just her second career game, Sularski kept a stoic expression amid the wild scene.
"I was like, "Wow" after that because the whole crowd and it was like amazing," Sularski said. "I was like really proud of myself."
Sularski set the tone for a hot-shooting night, drilling 5 of her 6 3-pointers in the first half to power Benet to a 71-61 victory over Naperville North in Lisle.
Sularski, who was starting due to five Benet players missing the game, shot 6-for-10 from beyond the arc for a career-high 24 points. Time after time, the Huskies (12-1) left Sularski wide open to launch a 3-pointer.
And she made them pay nearly every time.
Sularski joked that the Huskies should know her name -- and game -- after Monday's game.
"I was always wide open, so I'm like 'OK, if they're giving that to me, I might as well shoot it,'" Sularski said. "Maybe they didn't (know my name). It might be the first time they saw me play because I hadn't been starting.
"I just felt good. I felt confident and once I started making my stuff, I don't get in my head too much and started playing well."
Sularski canned a 3-pointer to give the Redwings (11-1) a 14-12 lead late in the first quarter. From that point, Benet never trailed again, building a 42-31 edge following Sularski's 3-point bomb at the halftime buzzer, off an assist from Lenee Beaumont.
Beaumont, a surefire Division I player, won the battle against her AAU teammate, Kenzie Hare. The 6-foot Beaumont put on her own show, displaying an all-around game to go with a torrid shooting performance. She had 23 points on 4-for-8 shooting on 3-pointers to go with 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals. Hare, a Saint Louis recruit, scored 21 points, hit three 3-pointers and added 3 rebounds.
Beaumont and Hare guarded each other for several possessions, and took turns entertaining the loud and large crowd with numerous highlight-reel plays.
"It was super exciting and it was a game we all were looking for since the start of the season, just because we're rivals," Beaumont said. "(Kenzie) is amazing and an all-around player and it's always fun to go against those type of girls."
Beaumont credited Sularski for sparking the Redwings, mentioning her big 3-pointer at the end of the second quarter. Sularski canned a corner 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter to increase Benet's lead to 64-46.
"(Emilia) is a very good shooter," Beaumont said. "She also had a great game against Kenwood, when we really needed her. Each game she's getting more confident and contributing more."
Benet coach Joe Kilbride called the nonconference game one of the best games in recent years. The fast-paced game featured 19 3-pointers -- 11 by Benet -- a frenetic third-quarter, numerous big shots and very few turnovers.
But Kilbride said Sularski's shooting was the X-factor.
"Emilia was on fire in the first half," Kilbride said. "Her and her sister were both out at the beginning of the season because they had injuries, then it took them a little while to get back in shape ... They both play hard and are really skilled. (Emilia) played really well also against Kenwood. It was a great game. We knew it was going to be a good test because we were short-handed."
Hare scored 8 points in the final quarter to help cut the deficit to 67-57, but Benet pulled away in the final minutes.
"I think it was a good game, and they're a good team but we didn't come to play," Hare said. "When you don't have a good start against a good team, it's hard to climb back. (Emilia) had a great game. Our defense has to be tighter."
Senior forward Sarah Crossett made three 3-pointers to end with 17 points, while Layla Henderson tossed in 14 points in the loss.
"The outcome wasn't what we wanted, but it was a learning experience for us," Crossett said. "It was a test for us today, but it can't happen again when it gets late in the season and in the playoffs."