Beaumont, Benet shine in marquee matchup

Lenee Beaumont did not need an introduction, or a scouting report, to realize the star power on the other side Tuesday in Ashlynn Shade.

Beaumont, Benet's own star senior guard and an Indiana recruit, has played AAU against Shade, a 5-foot-9 senior and UConn commit who plays for the La Lumiere School. The two top 100 national recruits also played with each other at the USA national camp last summer.

"She's an amazing player," Beaumont said. "I got to know her a little bit at USA camp. I really admire her, and how great of a player she is."

Beaumont, facing Shade in the spotlight, shined.

In a rare matchup of top 100 recruits in a high school gym - Shade is ranked No. 15 in the Class of 2023 by ESPNHoopGurlz, Beaumont No. 83 - Beaumont rose to the occasion.

She scored a career-high 30 points, and Benet held off a furious La Lumiere rally for a 56-49 win in the Redwings' season opener in Lisle.

Benet never trailed, and led by as many as 19. La Lumiere stormed back behind Shade, who scored 24 points with a jumper to close within 52-49 with 23 seconds left.

But the Redwings held on.

Samantha Trimberger added 10 points and 10 rebounds for Benet, with two free throws with 20.8 seconds left to pad Benet's tenuous lead.

"It was awesome to have that level of competition. It's not an every day thing," Beaumont said. "I think It will definitely prepare us for down the road. We're not going to see much better than that."

Beaumont started Tuesday's game quietly, missing five of her first six shots. But she quickly caught fire. She scored 10 points in the second quarter, her pullup 3-pointer extending Benet's lead to 27-11. Then she really got cooking in the third quarter, scoring Benet's first eight points.

Beaumont hung in the air for a shot in the lane, knocked down a deep 3-pointer and then had a steal and three-point play in transition as the Redwings opened up their biggest lead at 37-18. Beaumont only made one field goal in the fourth quarter, but it was a big one - a three after La Lumiere had closed to within six.

"Beaumont, she was special tonight. Really special," Benet coach Joe Kilbride said. "She walked that fine line of being aggressive and being patient. It's one thing to be aggressive, some people yank it. She was taking good shots."

Indeed, Kilbride has preached for Beaumont to more aggressively hunt her shot. At one point early Tuesday, he yelled at her to "shoot the ball."

Beaumont obliged as the game progressed, but was still an efficient 10-for-20 from the floor, and made all but one of her eight free throw attempts. She also had seven rebounds, two steals and two assists.

"Last year, if I had the same quiet start I probably would not have shot it half that much," Beaumont said. "With coach's confidence, and my teammates' confidence, I've been working on continuing to shoot the ball. Once I see it go in, I get more confident."

La Lumiere coach Matt Marvin, whose team beat Benet by three last year, noticed a different in Beaumont from year to year.

"When we played them last year she missed short on a lot of shots. A lot of it is strength, but also the conditioning. She's strong," Marvin said. "Our scout was to force her left, and she ate us up going left. Indiana is getting a great player."

Shade, a sweet-shooting guard, led Noblesville to an IHSAA Class 4A championship last year in Indiana, then transferred to La Lumiere in August.

She got it going late to lead La Lumiere back Tuesday.

Shade hit back-to-back threes sandwiched around a free throw to close her team within 10, and scored six more points in the fourth quarter after missing seven of her first eight shots.

Like Beaumont, Shade relished the opportunity of the head-to-head matchup.

"When coach was going over the scouting report he was like 'Lenee is on Benet' because I'm not familiar with Illinois teams. When I found out I knew it would be a great game," Shade said. "It's always great to go up against other great players. It challenges me to be a better player."

The two stars did not guard each other throughout the game, but Beaumont switched onto Shade late. She gave up one jumper, but that was it as Benet turned away the late comeback.

"When coach told me to go on her I knew I had to do everything in my power to not give up a three because she was shooting well," Beaumont said. "We told everyone in the huddle, just focus on defense."

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