Not pretty, but Benet gets past Evanston
Basketball tournaments can often lead to a mixed bag of results for most teams.
Playing multiple games in matter of a few days against diverse opponents tests the strength and ability of teams to adapt to difficult situations.
Benet discovered that on Tuesday night.
Nothing came easy in the Redwings' game against Evanston in the second day of the inaugural Morton College Girls Basketball Christmas Tournament.
The Redwings overcome an up-and-down effort by focusing on their defense and hitting free throws to pull out a 45-38 victory over Evanston in Cicero.
The Redwings (13-1) won both of their pool play games to advance to Wednesday's 6:30 p.m. game against Geneva.
"I told them after the game that Evanston made us play their game, especially in the first half," Benet coach Joe Kilbride said. "I thought we did a much better job in the third and fourth quarter. You are not always going to play pretty. In a tournament like this, you are not going to win four games all pretty. You have to sometimes find a way to grind out and get a win. I thought we did that today. I thought we got contributions from everybody who played. We did a good job of picking each other up and finding a way."
Benet junior point guard Lenee Beaumont poured in 14 points and senior center Morgan Demos added 12 points. Evanston sophomore guard Zuri Ransom finished with 12 points.
The Redwings knew they were in store for a tough game when Beaumont and Demos were held to a combined 7 points at halftime.
"We focused on defense because we had a little problem executing on offense," Demos said. "We made sure to pick ourselves up with our defense. Evanston got into our faces and we had to adjust. It was a very tough game, a good lesson for us to improve on. We did a good job of supporting each other."
After falling behind 29-28, the Redwings ended Evanston's 8-game winning streak by allowing just two field goals in the final 12:14. Meanwhile, the Redwings made 11 of their 13 free-throw attempts, including 5 in the final minute. Demos had a key block with 1:53 left and added a steal on the final play of the game.
"We didn't get a lot of free throws, but we made them when we needed to at the end," Kilbride said. "I thought our defense slowed the game late, and gave them some trouble getting the looks they wanted. We did enough to win. There's nothing wrong with that."
Senior guard Margaret Temple canned two key 3-pointers for the Redwings, hitting a second-quarter trey to give her team a 17-15 lead. Temple, a key player in Benet's quest for a Class 4A state title, scored 6 points.
"I just tried to stay ready to shoot," Temple said. "When other teams focus attention on Lenee and Demos, it draws a lot of defense to them and gives many opportunities for other players and allows us to step up.
"This was a good game for us to learn from. This competition will help us, especially in the playoffs. We need to keep our cool and confidence and play our game."
The Wildkits (9-3) pushed the pace, but struggled to score in the halfcourt, which was evident late in the game.
"These kids have heart and feel they can compete against anybody and proved that tonight against one of the best teams in the state," Evanston coach Brittanny Johnson said. "I'm really proud of them. They fought."