Not easy, but Benet knocks off Carmel again

Moments before Benet senior Lenee Beaumont and Carmel Catholic senior Jordan Wood would vie for the tip-off in an East Suburban Catholic Conference girls basketball game Wednesday night in Mundelein, the 6-foot Beaumont smiled and said something that made the 6-4 Wood crack up.

"I told J-Wood, 'What's the point in me jumping? You're going to win the tip no matter what I do,' " Beaumont recalled.

The Indiana-bound Beaumont and Michigan State-bound Wood - a pair of Midwest Elite club mates - then shed their smiles and put on their game faces.

The ref lofted the ball.

And, yes, Wood won the tip rather easily atop her home floor.

But Beaumont and the Redwings captured a hard-fought, 49-40 victory - nearly two months after Benet topped reigning Class 3A state champion Carmel 61-44 in a Thanksgiving tournament game.

Wood finished with a game-high 18 points; Beaumont and Benet junior guard Emilia Sularski netted 17 points apiece.

Beaumont and Wood each scored 9 points in the first half, when the hosts fell behind 5-0 but stunned Benet with a 15-4 run following a Carmel timeout at 6:24 of the first quarter.

Crisp passing, sharp shooting and deft inside moves lifted Carmel (17-5, 2-2), which led 15-9 after 8 minutes and 21-18 at the break.

The game had a sectional-final feel to it, maybe even a supersectional vibe.

"Ben Berg does such a great job," Redwings coach Joe Kilbride said of his counterpart after his squad improved to 14-6 overall, 5-1 in the ESCC. "Wood and (Corsairs senior forward Mia) Gillis are tough, always.

"We got rattled there early, but we found our composure in time."

The contest went from a battle of Big Ten recruits to the Emilia Sularski Show in the third quarter. The 5-11 guard hit a pair of 3-pointers in a 1:34 span, with her second trey giving Benet a 28-27 edge - the visitors' first advantage since 7-5 at 3:46 of the first frame.

Twelve of her 17 points came from 3-point hardwood.

"She'd been struggling with her shooting," Kilbride said. "But she's a phenomenal shooter, and she's back."

"I finally made a shot, and my confidence grew from there," said a relieved Sularski, whose sister, Magdalena, tallied 7 points.

Benet senior forward Samantha Trimberger (6 points) garnered Biggest Rebound of the Night honors. Her offensive board following a missed free throw preceded Emilia Sularski's final 3-pointer of the night.

That made it 37-33, Benet, at 4:40 of the fourth quarter.

Wood answered with a bucket 25 seconds later. Beaumont (5 rebounds) then ignited an 8-0 spurt via her lone 3 of the night.

Kilbride's crew led 45-35 with 1:12 left.

"It was a 1 or 2 possession game for most of the night," Berg said two days after his Corsairs defeated reigning Class 4A state champion Stevenson 42-37 in a tournament game. "That's a tough team, Benet. But I'm proud of my girls, especially how they performed and competed in the first half.

"We just need to correct a few things."

Carmel's Gillis (8 points) came down with a game-high 10 rebounds.

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