Benet Academy Boys Basketball Advances to State Championship


Quinn Knox

The Benet Academy Boys’ Basketball Team prepare to play New Trier Township High School.

On March 10, the Benet Academy Boys Basketball team defeated New Trier Township High School 64-49 at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s State Farm Center. They secured a spot in the IHSA 4A State Championship Game. Despite Benet Academy’s loss of starter and team captain Brady Kunka, who suffered a right ankle injury in the first minutes of the game, Benet Academy significantly outplayed New Trier Township High School. 

Benet Academy starters included Brady Kunka, Brayden Fagbemi, Nico Abusara, Parker Sulaver, and Andy Nash. However, four minutes into the first quarter Kunka took a hard fall and suffered an apparent right ankle injury. Kunka did not return for the remainder of the game, and Sam Driscoll took his place on the court.  

However, Benet Academy seemed to gain extra momentum after Kunka’s injury, and they went on a 10-5 scoring run to end the first quarter 18-16 over New Trier Township High School. They did not let up in the second quarter, knocking down two threes and out-scoring New Trier Township High School 13-4. At the half, Benet Academy was on top, 31-20. As the third quarter started, Benet Academy held off New Trier Township High School at a ten-point lead. As the quarter came to a close, Benet Academy’s Brayden Fagbemi shot a last-second three-point buzzer beater to put Benet on top 44-33. 

The fourth quarter was no different as Benet Academy piled on the baskets, going 8 for 12 beyond the arc. The “cherry on top,” as Abusara would later call it, sealed the deal for Benet Academy when he stole the ball and slammed dunked it with 1:10 remaining in the game. Benet Academy continued to score and defeated New Trier Township High School 64-49, improving their record to 35-1. 

At the postgame news conference, Benet Academy Head Coach Gene Heidkamp attributed the win to his defense, saying his guys made New Trier Township High School “earn every basket.” When Heidkamp was asked to comment on captain Brady Kunka’s injury, he said it “looked pretty significant.” Heidkamp then got emotional when he said, “[Brady] has played his whole career for an opportunity like this. So, to have that happen on the first play is heartbreaking.” When asked about the Championship game, Heidkamp said, “We are going to do whatever we have to do to give ourselves the best chance. We are excited to be here, and we’ll do our best.”

Benet Academy will play Moline High School in the 4A State Finals Championship on March 11 at 7:15 p.m. Go Redwings!