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Redwings bounce back as "D" smothers Carmel in ESCC Saturday matinee

After suffering a heartbreaking, last second, buzzer-beating loss to Class 3A No.1 Niles Notre Dame (11-1, 7-0) on Friday, the question was whether the Benet Academy Redwings could bounce back less than 24 hours later.

In a Saturday matinee, the athletic Carmel Corsairs (4-6, 3-3) of Mundelein could have been a problem for the Redwings.

No problem.

Behind a suffocating defense and 19 big points from senior Tyler Van Eekeren, Benet Academy (6-2, 4-1) rolled to a 46-30 ESCC victory. Van Eekeren scored 15 of his game-high 19 points in the second half.

After a defensive first half where the Redwings held the Corsairs to just 11 points, but just scored 16 themselves, Benet came out of their halftime locker room on fire.

Van Eekeren exploded, scoring seven points in a 9-0 Redwings run in the first four minutes of the second quarter. The 25-11 Redwing lead came at the mask timeout at 4:46 of the third quarter.

"We came out in the third quarter and really spread Carmel out and we were able to get easy baskets," Van Eekeren said. "Our great defense totally took Carmel out of their offense throughout the game."

Benet senior Sam Hennessy (10 points, five rebounds, four assists) combined with Van Eekeren to form a deadly duo that broke open the game for the Redwings.

Scoring four points, grabbing three rebounds and handing out four assists, of which two were beautiful assists, to his deadly duo member Van Eekeren, Hennessy had a huge third quarter for Benet.

The Redwings led 34-19, heading into the fourth quarter.

"It was a real tough loss at Notre Dame last night, "Hennessy said. "Today we played great defense in the first half and then we were very aggressive on offense to break open the game in the third quarter."

Benet opened up a 37-19 lead with 7:26 remaining in the game before Carmel made their last run. Pulling within 37-25 on a pair of rainbow three-pointers — life remained in the visitors from Mundelein.

Redwing junior Brennan White (five points) connected from downtown Lisle for three and a 40-25 Redwing lead with five minutes left. White's three-point dagger put the Corsairs on life-support.

Hennessy showed of his long-range marksmanship, burying a pair of long-range three pointers as the two teams played to a 8-8 tie after one quarter.

Benet freshman Parker Sulaver and Redwings sharpshooter, senior Luke Nolan (nine points, three 3's) went back-to-back from beyond the arc for a 14-8 Redwings lead. Van Eekeren scored inside for a 16-8 'Wing lead.

After being shutout by the Redwings D for the first 6:30 of the second quarter, Carmel's Josh LaBarra's rainbow three from the corner was the only points the Corsairs would score in quarter number two.

"Defense. That is the most important fact of this weekend," Benet Academy coach Gene Heidkamp said. "We played outstanding defense at Notre Dame last night and were outstanding today against a high-scoring Carmel team. I am so proud of our entire team."

Enough basketball talk. I want to talk about my players," Heidkamp added. "Tyler (Van Eekeren) does everything well for us. Our lone returning starter from last year, Tyler is our leader. Sammy (Hennessy) has played a complete game in every one of our games. Whether he scored three points or 15, he has been a major contributor in all our games. Luke (Nolan) is one of our outstanding three-point shooters. It sure is nice when they go down. Carson (Diehl) doesn't get a lot of publicity but Carson handles the inside for us. Carson is a major contributor to our success."

Up next for the Redwings is a visit from the Marian Catholic Spartans (5-4, 4-1) to Lisle on Tuesday night at 7 p.m.


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