Benet battles for hard-fought win over York
Lenee Beaumont gave the Benet faithful a scare when she took a nasty fall on a drive to the basket in the second quarter Tuesday.
But she was ready to go back in right away.
Her future college coach at Indiana, in attendance, joked that he saw Beaumont's leg anxiously shake on the sideline waiting to return to the court.
"I was about to chase down the trainer, but I couldn't find her," Beaumont said. "I'm good. I don't know what happened. I just know I banged my head pretty hard."
There was no keeping Beaumont down.
The Indiana recruit took over when the Redwings needed her most, scoring her team's last nine points of the third quarter to take the lead for good. Benet went on to a hard-fought 47-37 win over York.
Tied 22-22 at half, the two teams exchanged the lead six times during a back and forth third quarter. Stella Kohl's driving layup with 1:32 left in the third quarter gave York (9-3) its last lead, 34-33, but Beaumont came back with a driving score of her own.
Beaumont followed that with a putback off a turnover, then capped off her scoring binge with a deep three-pointer from near the Redwings' bench. It sent Benet (9-2) into the fourth quarter ahead 40-34.
"Going into the third quarter, tied at half, I was pretty upset about that, I knew had to take over," said Beaumont, who finished with 20 points, a career-high 14 rebounds and four assists. "I had to figure things out before it was too late."
Figure it out she did, as Beaumont scored or assisted on Benet's last 16 points.
"We got her the ball downhill a little bit and she was able to make some plays for us," Benet coach Joe Kilbride said.
Those are the kind of plays that Indiana associate head coach Rhet Wierzba, who was the lead recruiter for Beaumont, looks forward to her bringing to Bloomington over the next four seasons. He wasn't surprised to see her bounce back up after a couple hard falls Tuesday to lead Benet late.
"She's tough -- I knew if they were going to let her play, she was going to play," Wierzba said. "Obviously she is very skilled, dribble, pass, shot, her skill level is at an elite level. It's something you notice right away when you watch her. The way she handles the ball, passes, shoots it, scores at all three levels. And she's such a great person. She fits all the characteristics that we like to see."
Emilia Sularski added 14 points for Benet. Hannah Meyers led York with 11 points and Kohl had seven rebounds.
The Dukes were playing without 6-foot-1 starting forward Angelina Downer, and also 6-foot backup big Teegan Roach. Without those two the Dukes were basically playing five guards. Benet outrebounded York 40-17, with the Dukes going just seven-deep while still employing their full court run-and-jump pressure defense.
That pressure helped York to erase an early 13-4 deficit, and lead late in the third quarter, until a five-minute scoring drought bridging the third and fourth quarters allowed Benet to surge ahead with an 11-0 run.
"That fourth quarter, we had opportunities all over the place, we had open looks for our shooters that didn't fall for us," York coach Brandon Collings said. "Missing someone in our rotation that doesn't come off the floor much, we're pressing and pushing the ball and I think we had some tired legs, girls that usually knock down shots."
Indeed, York shot just 5-for-27 from three-point range. Leading scorer Mariann Blass, a Quincy commit, scored just five points and shot 1-for-5 from distance.
The Dukes have dropped three straight games after a 9-0 start, to Lake Zurich, Lyons and Benet, and in all three had a chance to win late but were held under 40 points in each.
"Against our toughest three teams we haven't shot the ball well," Collings said. "Which, in the back of our minds, we know we're still good enough to play with these teams. If we can hit shots like we're capable of we can surprise some teams."