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Benet earns Montini title with boost from Emily Eshoo, bench

If Benet proved anything Tuesday in the Montini Holiday Tournament championship game, it’s that you can never have enough Emily’s.

Twenty-four hours after Emily Schramek carried Benet past Montini with a 24-point effort, her teammate Emily Eshoo – with a lot of help from the bench – led the Redwings to a 60-42 victory over Trinity.

Eshoo scored 15 points and contributed to a 16-3 run to open the second half that allowed Benet (17-0) to erase a 27-24 halftime deficit and build a 40-30 lead with 1:37 remaining in the third quarter.

Eshoo played much of the third quarter alongside reserves Morgan Thomalla and Kendall Schramek and part-time starter Emma Hlavin. Thomalla opened the fourth quarter with a three-pointer and Trinity never got closer than seven points the rest of the way.

“I really wasn’t sure (what happened in the third quarter),” Eshoo said. “But we have a really deep bench. Everyone on our team can play. We trust everyone on our team. I’m really glad I can play on a team where I can rely on more than just the starters. I can also rely on the bench to contribute to the win.

“We really came together after halftime and realized this is our tournament, and we worked too hard and came to far not to win it. We knew we had to come out with twice as much intensity, and just rebound and play defense and finish out the game strong and win this tournament.”

A three-pointer by Trinity’s Patricia Stritzel midway through the first quarter capped a game-opening 14-5 run by the Blazers. But Eshoo answered from the left corner to spark a 18-6 outburst that gave the Redwings a 23-20 lead with 4:36 remaining in the half.

Benet’s lead lasted less than a minute, however. Trinity freshman Daliyah Brown canned a three-pointer from the corner and Stritzel drove the right baseline as the Blazers closed the first half on a 7-1 run to take a 27-24 lead into the locker room at the break.

But the lead evaporated quickly in the third quarter as Benet’s fresh legs and relentless pressure started to take its toll. A three-pointer by Elise Stout and Thomalla’s steal of an inbounds pass were part of Benet’s decisive 16-3 run.

“They started pressuring us, and we normally protect the ball very well,” Trinity coach Eddie Stritzel said. “Maybe I didn’t do a good enough job going through pressbreaker because we’re usually the ones pressing and not being pressed, and we didn’t handle it well. So I’ll take the blame on that.

Kaitlin Aylward led Trinity (12-1) with 14 points and six rebounds, Stritzel finished with nine points and Brown added eight.

Kathleen Doyle, who was named the tournament’s MVP, added 12 points, three steals, three assists and a blocked shot for Benet, which also got 10 points from Stout and eight points and seven rebounds from Hlavin.

“We just had really good contributions from a number of kids who changed the pace, the tempo in the third quarter,” Benet coach Joe Kilbride said. “We got our press going, we got the tempo going, and all of sudden the whole thing changed. It was really an energy thing. They dug down and found it.”

In the third-place game, Teniya Page scored four of her game-high 27 points and Jerell Matthews added a 3-pointer as Marian Catholic (12-2) outscored Montini 7-2 in overtime to claim third place, 60-55. Rainey Kuykendall scored 18 points for Montini (16-3).