LISLE – The Benet girls basketball team still remembers how close it was to a sectional appearance in February.
Leading Naperville Central by 15 points at halftime in the regional championship game on Feb. 14, the Redwings let their lead slip away in the third and fourth quarters, eventually losing by two points.
But Benet head coach Peter Paul say the Redwings’ returning players have used the defeat as motivation to improve during the summer and fall.
“It was a tough loss to take,” Paul said. “But I think some of the players are now better because of it. They have worked on their game and we are excited for the upcoming season.”
On the heels of a 20-10 season, Benet now boasts a lineup that can consistently knock down mid- and long-range shots. In the season opener against St. Ignatius on Monday, the Redwings got out to an early double-digit lead and cruised to an 80-53 victory.
Forward Emily Schramek scored a game-high 18 points while Emily Eshoo had 16 and sophomore point guard Kathleen Doyle added 14 points.
The three returners will be counted on to lead Benet’s offense this season, according to Paul.
“[Schramek, Eshoo and Doyle] got a lot of looks last year and we will lean heavily on them again this season,” Paul said. “All three can shoot the ball well and I think they are only getting better.”
Along with seniors Jenna Martin, Eden Olson and Grace Bumpus, Benet’s shooters will look to counter their lack of size with a quick transition game and converting points off turnovers.
As the season progresses and the team continues to gel, Paul expects to work in the Redwings’ tallest player – 6-foot-1-inch Yorkville transfer Kendall McDermott.
“We are not the biggest team, so we will be looking to play an uptempo style and push the pace,” Paul said, adding that the team focused heavily on boxing out and securing rebounds in the offseason.
Schramek, Eshoo and Doyle each snagged seven rebounds in the season opener while Olson led the team with nine boards.