Beaumont-to-Harzich game-winner sends Benet past Kenwood in supersectional thriller
Lenee Beaumont, her career hanging in the balance as she dribbled 10 feet from the rim in the closing seconds Monday, made a decision not every star player would.
She trusted a teammate to make the shot.
Beaumont, Benet's senior guard and Indiana recruit, had the option of taking the game-winning shot down one point. Or trusting sophomore Lindsay Harzich to make her only basket of the game.
"Either I'm getting a shot and it's going to be contested, or I'm going to make sure somebody has a wide-open layup," Beaumont said. "At the end of the day, I want to go out my senior year making the right play. No regrets."
The right play turned out to be the game-winning play.
Beaumont got the ball at the top of the key in a fullcourt scramble, dribbled past a defender and made a perfect drop-off to Harzich as another Kenwood defender came up to contest Beaumont. Harzich's wide-open layup with five seconds left was the difference in Benet's dramatic 47-46 win over Kenwood at the Class 4A Hinsdale Central supersectional.
"It was absolutely amazing, the crowd went crazy," Harzich said. "I was just thinking we better get a shot, and we better make it."
Beaumont scored 25 points and grabbed seven rebounds, and Samantha Trimberger added eight points and seven rebounds for Benet (24-7), headed back to state after taking fourth place in Class 4A last season. The Redwings will face Geneva, a Monday winner over Barrington, in a 4:15 p.m. Friday semifinal at Redbird Arena.
That was looking in doubt after Benet, which led 45-37 with 3:41 left after Beaumont hit two free throws, watched as Kenwood freshman Danielle Brooks hit three consecutive 3-pointers. The third, with 25 seconds left, gave Kenwood a 46-45 lead.
Benet coach Joe Kilbride, though, had his ace in the hole, one he called for in a timeout.
"I got that kid No. 5 [Beaumont], she's pretty good," Kilbride said. "At the end I said we're going to get the ball to Beau, and she is going to make something happen. And that's exactly what she did."
Harzich had taken just one shot up to the final seconds in 14 minutes. But the sophomore lefty kept her cool, dropping in the layup from the right side just as Beaumont knew she would.
"Lindsay was open, the Kenwood girl stepped up, and I trust any one of my teammates to make that shot," Beaumont said. "Lindsay works her butt off, she's in the gym every day before and after practice. As soon as school ended today, we were getting up shots. I knew she'd make it."
So did Kilbride, who said his youngster is poised beyond her years.
"Lindsay is very calm, a flat demeanor, you'd never know she was rattled," Kilbride said.
Kilbride's Redwings had ample opportunity to get rattled in a game chock full of big swings. Beaumont scored 14 of her 25 in the first half. Maggie Sularski's driving layup three minutes into the second quarter capped off a 15-0 run for a 17-5 Benet lead.
Benet's zone defense kept Kenwood (30-6) scoreless for over seven minutes in a stretch bridging the second and third quarters. But the Broncos, who shot 9 for 24 on a streaky night, got it going out of the break.
A Brooks' 3-pointer, one of her five, tied it 28-28, and Kenwood eventually went ahead 32-28. Natasha Barnes had a team-high 17 points for Kenwood, which was seeking its first state appearance.
"There were several times where they gave us a really good run, we did some silly stuff, lost track of shooters," Kilbride said. "But I thought our resilience and emotional toughness was good today."
Indeed, another momentum swing went Benet's way to end the third quarter. Sadie Sternbenz hit a 3, and after a Kenwood technical fouled out Jazlynn Givens, Beaumont hit two go-ahead free throws. Emilia Sularski followed with a 3-pointer, sending Benet into the fourth quarter ahead 36-32.
Beaumont, doubled throughout the second half, only took three shots and went without a field goal after halftime. But she made 11 consecutive free throws and was 12 for 14 for the game.
"For sure there have been a lot of situations, couple seconds on the clock, where I wasn't able to get our team the win because I missed free throws," Beaumont said. "I knew going into the playoffs that's a big thing. Kenwood likes to put people on the line. I knew I had to knock them down."
Benet is back at state for the fifth time since 2015. Beaumont said it's gratifying in a season in which it was questioned if the Redwings had the depth to make it this far.
"We have had a lot of ups and downs, a lot of people didn't think we'd go to state, but we didn't listen to the outside noise," Beaumont said. "We had a trust and a bond throughout the year. You have to trust other girls to make plays like we did tonight."