Benet runs past Naperville Central

With an ironic twist only fitting for the times, Naperville Central and Benet, both of whom captured their two girls basketball state championships in back-to-back fashion, met in the long-overdue season opener Saturday evening in Lisle.

Under normal circumstances, the girls' Class 4A programs would be fine-turning their hoped-for postseason runs at this time of the calendar year.

"There was definitely that period when we didn't think we were going to have anything," said Benet senior guard Reagan Rodenbostal after the Redwings downed Naperville Central 65-45. "Within two days, we heard we were possibly going to have a season."

Girls basketball was the last sport to hold a state tournament before the pandemic struck in full force almost 11 months ago.

The traditional elements of basketball winding down its regular season were nowhere to be found.

Nary a student, other than the competitors, was present in the gym. There were no Naperville Central partisans in sight as well.

Following the norms established by many conferences, Benet athletic director Gary Goforth limited the crowd size to Benet family members only.

"We don't even have that," Goforth said of the crowd noticeably smaller than the 50 persons prescribed.

Basketball has had a life span of its own.

The players had few options but to prepare as if some form of season would eventually materialize.

""We were able to do contact stuff in the fall," said Benet sophomore guard Lenee Beaumont, who led the Redwings with 11 points. "We finally were able to play our first game, so it was exciting."

Twelve players in all would score for the Redwings in their season opener.

In yet another tweak to normality, the fourth-quarter running clock that would have been instituted for the last eight minutes - Benet led by 33 points after three quarters - of the nonconference game was abandoned.

Benet coach Joe Kilbride received as many contributions off the bench as he did from his starters as Benet star guard Kendall Moriarity, the Big Ten-bound guard for Nebraska, was more than content finishing with 8 points.

Adjustments are inescapable to the truncated season, which will not feature any playoff action.

"Playing with a face mask is really different," said Beaumont.

"We still have conference," Rodenbostal said of the postseason being canceled.

Naperville Central guard Gabi Melby had six 3-point-scoring possessions to lead both teams with 21 points.

Veteran Naperville Central coach Andy Nussbaum was positively glowing with the news program immortal Candace Parker would be returning to the area to continue her storied professional career with the Chicago Sky.

"She texted me about it before it was announced," Nussbaum said before the game.

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