By Mark Gregory
The faces may be different, but the names are still the same – the last names anyway.
As Benet Academy defeated Plainfield East 59-48 last weekend for the title at the East Aurora Sectional – its third-straight – the Redwings did so with many of the same names that has it the past.
Benet was paced in the game by sophomore Clara Prasse, who tallied a season-best 18 points. Prasse – along with sisters Kendall and Brooke Schramek – all had sisters on at least one of the state title teams.
“We need more of them,” Benet coach Joe Kilbride joked. “But, yeah – Prasse is the third one, we have the third Schramek now, Sami Valentine last year was the third one and Kathleen Doyle was one of six. We have been blessed with really good kids.”
Good kids who can play.
After Benet found itself trailing 18-10 to the Bengals, freshman Brooke Schramek scored a quick five points that got the Redwings back on track.
“I think we just realized that if we lose, we’re done and the seniors are gone,” she said. “I think we really motivated each other. Our energy was crazy good, we were cutting harder, our passes were stronger and we were looking for each other a lot more.”
Benet also turned on the pressure defense and made it difficult for East to advance the ball past half court.
“In some ways, it is not a very complicated game. You have to guard, you have to rebound and you have to make shots and take care of the ball. If you do those four things, nothing else really matters,” Kilbride said.
The Redwings were paced by Prasse’s 18, while Tsimba Malonga added 13 and Brooke Schramek chipped in 10.
Katie Jasekas tallied 10 points and 10 rebounds.
“We spend a lot of time looking at who is playing well and who to give a little more run to because we have so many good weapons, which is a great problem,” Kilbride said. “Kendall is not scoring a ton of points this year, but when she is locked in and flying around, we can play with anybody. Katie is just a warrior. If you are ever going into a war – you want to take Katie with you. That kid will battle until the end.
“We have a few things that are our core motto and one of them is sacrifice and I told the kids that I am not worried about that with them. They don’t care about who is getting the buckets or who is getting the press because all they care about is winning and that is the exact spot to start.”
Winning is something the Redwings are looking for again.
They face undefeated 30-0 Edwardsville Monday in the Illinois Wesleyan supersectional.
A win would place Benet at the state finals for the third-straight season, as it won the Class 4A state title the last two seasons.
“Two years ago we were not even ranked in the preseason – then we won state. But, we graduated 44 points per game and everyone said, ‘they will be good, but,’ ” Kilbride said. “Then last year we were pretty good again and won, but we graduated three staring guards and the best player in the state of Illinois (Kathleen Doyle). Again, everyone said, ‘they will be good, but not as good.’ This is a credit to the kids.”