DuPage County All-Area Girls Basketball Captain: Lenee Beaumont, Benet
Near the midpoint of her career, Lenee Beaumont hit a crossroads that would change the arc of her future.
After a promising first two seasons playing on the varsity, Beaumont was aiming to take her game to the next level to make an even bigger impact at Benet.
A pass-first point guard, Beaumont deferred to her teammates on offense. In high school and AAU, Beaumont was often the youngest player on her team. Her team-first attitude fit in perfectly on Benet's star-studded roster.
But her AAU coach, Ryan Haun, wanted Beaumont to step out of the shadows and into the limelight. He quickly realized her athletic gifts and unselfish approach could lead to a bright future.
"Lenee would show what she could do in flashes, in practices or a tournament," Haun said, the current program director at All-Iowa Attack. "You could see her playmaking and unselfishness. You could see her confidence growing, especially in our second season and that the sky was the limit for her. But I wanted her to take a bigger role and show the ability to score 20 points in a game."
At a tournament in Ames, Iowa, near the end of the AAU season, Haun decided to challenge Beaumont to reach the 20-point mark. He wanted her to be more aggressive on offense.
"I remember telling her she had five (games) to put 20 points up for a game, or we would have a serious conversation about her future," Haun said. "The last game of the tournament she dropped 20 points. She needed that desperation. She saw the window closing in order to do what she could do. Now, she can turn it up whenever she wants to. I love kids who answers challenges."
Beaumont, a senior point guard with four years of varsity experience, is now one of the best players in the state. She has answered every challenge in her four-year career, leading the Redwings (25-8) to second place in state this season.
The 6-foot Beaumont, an Indiana recruit who averaged 18.7 points, 7.3 points and 3.3 assists per game to go with 36 3-pointers, is the Captain of the 2022-23 Daily Herald DuPage County All-Area Team.
Even now, Beaumont, a top 100 nationally ranked player, traces part of her success to her work with Haun, who helped develop her mental and physical game.
"I remember that summer because I was playing up in AAU, and was starting and then wasn't starting," Beaumont said. "I didn't really know how I was playing. I learned so much. My confidence grew. I was living in the gym working out three times a day, spending four to five hours a day. But I remember coach (Haun) talking about my potential. He talked about where I wanted to play in college and we talked about recruiting.
"I told him I wanted to play in the Big Ten, but was I like, 'Yeah, that's not happening.' He was like, 'No, this is going to happen.' He told me I have to put in the work because I'm more than capable. That confidence from that spring and summer AAU was tremendous for my next two high school seasons."
Already blessed with a rare skill set, Beaumont built upon her solid summer to be a driving force behind Benet's fourth-place finish last season. But Beaumont said losing two games on the same day at state drove her all offseason.
She called Benet's scintillating supersectional victory over Kenwood the "biggest win of my entire life." Beaumont, in typical point guard fashion, fed sophomore Lindsay Harzich with a bounce pass for the winning layup with five seconds left to advance to the state semifinals.
The Redwings then played two more scintillating games -- a semifinal win over Geneva in the final seconds before the double overtime loss to O'Fallon in the state title game. Beaumont scored 27 points Friday and 28 Saturday.
"This whole year has not been the typical Benet year," Beaumont said. "We usually have a better record and win conference. We've had a lot of ups and downs throughout the year. The goal, at least for me, was to always get back to state.
"I was extremely disappointed after those two losses at state last year. I really didn't want to talk to anyone after the game. I had high expectations. I wasn't happy with how things turned out. I remember for the third-place game I wasn't in the right mental or emotional state."
Benet coach Joe Kilbride, a two-time state champion, said Beaumont added another level to her game for her senior season.
"The biggest thing we wanted her to be more aggressive for her senior year," Kilbride said. "Last year, we thought she wouldn't try and take over a game that much. Sometimes she would take only four shots a game. When you're the best shooter on the floor and don't shoot, it's selfish not shooting. She's made huge strides this year. She's hunting her own shots. She's more carnivore instead of herbivore. She's stronger physically and she has the mindset to score more."
Throughout her career, Beaumont has been compared to former Benet superstar Kathleen Doyle, who led the Redwings to back-to-back state titles. Beaumont said she's aiming to add one more accolade to her illustrious career.
Coming up just short doesn't change everything she and her teammates did for the program.
"To be in this game was super crazy," Beaumont said. "Obviously we're disappointed, we worked all season to be here, but unfortunately some shots didn't go our way.
"A couple bounces either would have gone, we had a few missed layups. It's very unfortunate. I hate losing, especially in the state championship game."