Benet pulls out last-second win over Lake Zurich

Survive and advice.

That's the motto Benet basketball coach Joe Kilbride adopted for the highly competitive 2nd Annual Morton College Girls Basketball Christmas Tournament.

The Redwings listened to their veteran coach, surviving a frenetic comeback by Lake Zurich in the fourth quarter to pull out a 44-43 victory in the last quarterfinal on Wednesday night.

The Bears (12-3) nearly knocked off the highly rated Redwings, trailing the entire game only to miss a potential game winning layup with one second left in regulation.

The Redwings (11-2) advances to battle undefeated Fremd in Thursday's 8:15 p.m. second semifinal.

"Lake Zurich does such a great job, and are so tough on the glass," Kilbride said. "I told them if we can win the battle of the glass, we have a chance. I just thought we got tired. I'm tired. It's past my bedtime. At the end, we just couldn't seem to get a stop and missed some free throws and did some silly things with the ball, but I told them to survive and advance. We did that."

Benet star point guard Lenee Beaumont was up to her usual game-altering tricks. She impacted the game on both ends of the court, finishing with 18 points and 8 assists. She played stellar defense, and slowed down several Lake Zurich rallies by finding an open teammate for a basket.

Lake Zurich coach Chris Bennett admitted he's a longtime member of the Lenee Beaumont fan club.

"We've played Benet three of the last four years, and I told her that she's one of my favorite players I've ever watched play," Bennett said. "She's the consummate teammate who has a great attitude and makes plays and passes. She's just an outstanding player."

The Indiana-bound Beaumont helped end Lake Zurich's winning streak at 11 in a row by finding Emilia Sularski (10 points) for a bucket with 61 seconds left to give Benet a 44-41 lead. Beaumont made a free throw for the final point to set up the wild ending.

"All of these teams in the tournament are really good, so it's good to get the win," Beaumont said. "We now have Fremd, the No. 1 team in the state. Everyone is excited to have a chance to beat them. We have to clean up some things offensively and defensively. We got pretty lucky toward the end but we got the win."

Lake Zurich's young team showed some moxie by not backing down, as sophomore forward Avery Cooper had 12 points, sophomore guard Molly Friesen added 11 points and junior forward Anna Gilbertson and senior guard Baylie Parks both had 7 points. Friesen played like a veteran, attacking the basket for points and hitting several key jumpers, including scoring 7 points in the third quarter to keep the Bears in the game. Cooper sparked the Bears in the fourth quarter with 8 points, including a layup to cut the deficit to 42-41 with 1:38 left. The 6-foot Friesen answered the challenge competing against Beaumont with a strong drive to bring the deficit back down to 44-43 with 14.2 ticks in the game.

"We know we're nowhere near as good as we think we can be," Bennett said. "We're getting closer. It's encouraging we're playing against good teams. The goal is to peak in February. Molly is doing a great job being aggressive and she can knock down open shots."

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