For the first time since 2016 Benet Academy is back in the girls basketball State championship after a thrilling win over Geneva. Standing in front of Benet and an opportunity for a third championship is O’Fallon Township. The Panthers come into the state finals for the first time in school history after dropping 77 points on Hersey. This highlight is sponsored by BMO Harris Bank.
Panthers with a strong first impression
The Panthers are already showing that first impression on the big stage and this three point basket by Malia Robertson puts them up big early 10-0.
It was a game of keep-away in the first quarter and it’s capped by another Panther three this time from Josie Christopher. 15-4 O’Fallon after one.
Redwings quickly wake up in the second quarter. Emilia Sularski is looking for a teammate but gambles on a three instead and it pays off to put them back within single digits.
O’Fallon keeps on rolling with Jaliah Pelly who flies through the defense and scores.
Benet gets in scoring mode to close the deficit
The Panthers main game plan was to lockdown Lenee Beaumont yet she still finds a way to get her buckets. That three point play cuts the deficit to 25-13.
A couple of possessions later, Benet is back within single digits with Lindsay Harzich nailing the corner three. The Redwings back in the game and trail 27-20 going into halftime.
Sam Trimberger starts her attack
The Sam Trimberger show starts in the third. She misses this shot but gets it back and the second try is good. 13 points and 12 boards for the senior.
O’Fallon quickly answers with all time leading scorer Shannon Dowell who scores a tough lay in to increase the lead to 31-24. 25 on the night for Dowell.
Back to Trimberger we go and she’s back to scoring. Benet trails by just two after a much needed basket.
Trimberger was a wrecking machine in the paint and this shot gives Benet the lead for the first time, 33-31.
Big run for Benet to end the third
Redwings go on a 17-7 run in the third quarter and Beaumont floats the ball in to beat the buzzer. It’s 37-34 wings going into the fourth.
We’re tied at 38 but Emilia Sularski changes that with a three on the wing and it’s good. 11 in the game for Sularski.
Panthers are within one with the ball and Pelly carves up the defense with a floater that puts her team ahead at 48-47.
Emilia Sularski continues to do her thing by taking another three and nails it. A massive shot for the junior as the Redwings lead 50-48 with under a minute to go.
O’Fallon doesn’t give up
After a Panthers turnover, Benet with a chance to ice the game up by two with 20 seconds left but out of the inbounds play, the layup from Emilia Sularski falls off the rim. O’Fallon the other way with a chance to tie. Dowell doesn’t get the basket but she is fouled. She sinks both freebies and we are locked up at 50 with just over ten seconds to play.
Beaumont, who led all scorers with 27 points with the ball going for the win, it’s off the rim, Trimberger tries it after the board and that’s also off. The buzzer sounds, and we have overtime.
A couple free throws from Emilia Sularski has Benet up by three and Dowell who will play collegiately on this court for ISU hits another crucial three with this one tying it back up.
Tied at 54 with O’Fallon inbounding but Benet gets the ball back with a steal.
So can they try to win at the end again? Beaumont takes it herself and it’s no good again. Nobody wants the season to end so let’s go to double overtime.
Panthers with the ball and Pelly finds D’Myjah Bolds down low and lays it in off the glass to regain the lead.
O’Fallon wins first state title in girls basketball
Benet trailing 60-57 with one last shot and Beaumont can’t connect from three. Panthers with the board, and are able to hit the dagger free throws to ice it. O’Fallon Township is your IHSA 4A girls basketball State champions for the first time ever, after a thrilling 62-57 victory over Benet. Despite the loss Benet Academy brings home girls basketball State trophy number five, the first ever runner up trophy for the program.
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