Girls basketball: Batavia blows out Benet in season opener
Batavia senior point guard Brooke Carlson wanted to make a big statement on Friday night.
Carlson, a four-year starter who signed with Colorado State, admitted she was excited to play the season opener at Benet.
"I wasn't sure how we would come out tonight, but I was excited for this game," Carlson said.
Ten minutes into the season opener for both teams, Carlson had her answer.
The Bulldogs drilled three straight 3-pointers -- by three different players not named Carlson -- to ignite a game-turning run early in the second quarter. Carlson was the star player in the opener, hitting two 3-pointers for a game-high 29 points to lead the Bulldogs to a shocking 76-48 running-clock rout over Benet in Lisle.
"It feels amazing because we had so much energy," Carlson said. "Everybody contributed and I relied on my teammates. It was an amazing feeling to win by this much. It's crazy, especially to start the season. We came out really, really strong and that will just set us up for the rest of the season."
The Bulldogs (1-0) handed Benet coach Joe Kilbride, who has won 245 games in his first nine years at Benet, one of the worst losses in his tenure. Batavia had seven different players hit at least one 3-pointer, with senior guard Kylee Gehrt, a three-year starter, draining three 3s for 15 points. Addie Prewitt played tough defense and added two 3s for six points and Samantha Jansey and Julie Arulandu each hit a pair of 3s for six points.
"I told the girls that this is a program-type win," Batavia coach Kevin Jensen said. "Regardless of who is on Benet's team, they are an outstanding program. They have one of the best coaches in the state. It's a program-type win. It doesn't define us, but it's a good start to the season. Brooke had a great game, but we had all kind of threats on the floor with girls who can drive and finish and hit from outside."
Batavia forward Hallie Crane missed all of last season with a knee injury, but she started the deluge of 3s, drilling a 3-pointer with 6:04 left in the second quarter. On the next possession, Prewitt connected from beyond the arc and Gehrt closed out the three-possession swing with another 3-pointer for a 22-14 lead.
"I just let it fly today," Gehrt said. "The first quarter I felt I needed to get locked in, but the second half I just played without any pressure. We played together and played good defense. This is a good confidence boost for us, beating a really good team. We played hard and got hyped for the game and were ready to go. We're excited about our next few games."
After the Bulldogs spread the floor out with their shooting, Carlson went to work attacking the heart of Benet's defense with her power drives to the basket. The Redwings were helpless, as Carlson repeatedly drove to her right, while her teammates also scored on several transition baskets.
The Redwings clearly missed the presence of four-year starting point guard and 2023 Ms. Basketball Lenee Beaumont, who averaged 19.3 points, 8.0 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 2.0 steals for the Class 4A state runner-up.
Benet senior Maggie Sularski handled the point guard duties until falling into early foul trouble. The Redwings turned the ball over six times in the first quarter, plus committed a costly turnover on their first second-half possession which allowed Carlson to score on a 3-point play. Emilia Sularski led the Redwings with 15 points. Benet junior guard Aria Mazza, a transfer from Conant, scored four points.
"It's the first game, so first-game jitters are always a part of it," Kilbride said. "I thought we rebounded well and our effort was pretty good. We were really loose with the ball and impatient on offense. Defensively, we almost were overdoing things. We have some things we have to figure out. They shot the ball really well. Brooke was really good. We had to get out on people, and she got to the rim on us. In the second half, she took the game over."