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It was a defensive battle between two of the hardest working teams in the western suburbs and it was Wheaton Warrenville South which prevailed at the end.
The visiting Tigers held on for a 41-39 win despite a late rush by host Benet on opening-night play at the Naperville North/Benet tournament on Thursday.
The taller and more experienced Tigers (8-2), who had done a good job of defending Benet’s outside shooting all night, led 39-33 with 93 seconds left to go in the game. Then the Redwings made a late move.
Christen Prasse hit a free throw, Kathleen Doyle sank a medium-range shot and Emily Eshoo hit from beyond the arc to bring Benet to within two points with possession of the ball in the closing seconds.
But the Tigers defense collapsed on Prasse to deny her an open look. She managed to get the ball to a teammate, but the Redwings were unable to convert on a pair of shots with the clock running out.
“If somebody told me that we’d be down Maggie Dansdill and Kelly Langlas and playing against Benet,” said Wheaton South coach Rob Kroehnke, “I would have been worried. But this game shows you how hard these kids work. It wasn’t pretty, but they just kept plugging away. This was a test for us and we passed.”
Dansdill injured her knee last week and she’ll miss the rest of the season. Langlas was coming back from an injury but was reinjured early in the game and had to sit out the rest of the game.
“Maggie being out is a killer,” said Megan Waldron, who led the Tigers with 14 points, 11 rebounds and five assists. “She’s the key to our team and we’ll work hard and dedicate the rest of the season to her.”
Olivia Linebarger, finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Benet (8-5) had three players in double figures. Doyle led the team with 12, Prasse hit 11 and Eshoo added 10.
“We battled as hard as we could and we had opportunities to win,” said Benet coach Peter Paul. “It shouldn’t have come down to the last shot. We attacked and got good looks. We’re a young team and sometimes we forced it a little. But we’ll get there.”
Benet was playing without injured guards Eden Olson and Jenna Martin.