WHEATON – Benet wasn't sure if junior Noah Ferrell would be ready to contribute heading into the season, but practice and gametime action has forced Ferrell into the mix.
The Redwings are seeing the results.
The 6-foot-7, 225-pound Ferrell provided a solid boost off the bench in the second quarter with starter Colin Crothers battling foul trouble, and the supporting firepower from David Buh carried Benet to a 53-48 victory over Plainfield East in the Wheaton Warrenville South MLK Tournament championship on Monday.
The victory serves as Benet's first championship in program history at the sixth annual tournament.
Buh and Ferrell both popped in 15 points apiece, while Crothers followed with 12 points and five rebounds to pace Benet. Plainfield East was led by sophomore Christian Shumate and junior Collin Reed, who both scored 13 points each while Shumate had a team-high seven rebounds.
Spending time on the sophomore team last year, Ferrell has developed a nice niche coming off the bench this season for a team that didn't expect to see him in the 10-man rotation.
The lack of varsity experience didn't show, though.
"Whenever my number is called, I'm just ready," Ferrell said. "You've got to be ready whenever you're called...since it was the championship game of the tournament, I was definitely ready to come out and show what I can do."
Benet coach Gene Heidkamp, who recently notched his 250th career win, noted Ferrell is "deceptive", and finishes around the rim well. With the Bengals overall lack of size in the middle, Ferrell and Crothers both found room in the paint frequently.
"Being able to score like [Ferrell] did, and rebounding like he did, It's definitely a major factor why we won," Crothers said.
Benet took a 25-19 halftime lead behind Ferrell's nine-point second quarter, but the lead ballooned in a hurry.
Buh knocked down a pair of threes to open the third quarter, and Jacob Petrovic and Will Engels both hit threes to take a 41-26 Benet lead toward the end of the quarter. Later on, Plainfield's Yamani Shareef (eight points) knocked down a three to inch the Bengals within 12 heading into the final frame.
Plainfield East (13-8) made a slight comeback behind Reed and Jacob Woulard's five points each down the stretch. But after a Reed layup with 36 seconds remaining for the 51-45 deficit, Benet's Engels hit a pair of free throws to essentially ice the game despite a late Shareef three to close the game.
Benet (14-4) notched a pair of wins by scoring over 70 points in victories over Plainfield South and Lake Forest Academy to advance to the semifinal vs. York, which was played earlier Monday morning in a tight 37-36 decision that pushed the Redwings into the final.