With the girls basketball state playoffs now underway, let’s take a look back at the first Naperville area state championship victories in the Naperville Sports Weekly era. It’s time for Vintage Moments, presented by BMO Harris Bank.
In Season 8 of Naperville Sports Weekly, the 2014-15 Benet Academy girls basketball roared to a red hot start to the season, winning their first 18 games. Despite losing three games during a rough stretch in January through early February, the Redwings roared into the playoffs and rolled through the regional and sectional rounds.
Heading into that season, Benet had only made the state tournament once, losing in the quarterfinal round in 1998. 17 years later, the Wings made a much lengthier state trip, winning over Edwardsville in the Supersectional and Homewood-Flossmoor in the state semi finals. Led by high scoring seniors Emily Eshoo and Emily Schramek and swiss army knife point guard Kathleen Doyle, Benet won the program’s first state championship in dominant fashion over Fremd 61-39.
The following year, the Redwings looked to repeat despite the graduation of the Emily’s. Key players from the previous season like Kendall Schramek, Katie Jaseckas and Elise Stout stepped into larger roles, while Kathleen Doyle emerged as one of the top players in the state. The road to state was a little rockier in the 2016 playoffs with tough tests from Neuqua Valley and Oswego East in the sectional round. In a supersectional rematch with Edwardsville, Doyle showed why she would eventually win the Ms. Illinois Basketball award, putting her team back into the final four with a last second game winning bucket.
After a dominant semi final win over Trinity, the Redwings faced another rematch with Fremd and the game went right down to the wire. Trailing late in the 4th quarter, Kathleen Doyle hit two monster three pointers to put Benet back in the lead. The Redwings hung on in the final moments as the game tying three point attempt from Fremd was off the mark, giving Benet the 42-39 championship game win. Back to back 4A state titles for the Redwings and Coach Joe Kilbride, including an impressive two year record of 66-6 that will be remembered for years to come!