NAPERVILLE – Benet’s boys basketball team knows that when the playoffs come around, its perfect record, top ranking in the state and Midwest and No. 6 national ranking don’t matter.
The Redwings saw teams like Downers Grove South and Glenbard East survive tough tests in their regional openers Tuesday in games that, on paper, they were expected to dominate.
Benet made sure that they would have to go through a test like that.
The Redwings scored the first 10 points of the game and led by as many as 33 in their 65-35 win over Plainfield East in the Class 4A Naperville North Regional semifinals Wednesday. Benet will face the host Huskies for the regional title and a berth in next week’s East Aurora Sectional Friday at 7:30 p.m. at North.
“It was just keeping us aware that just because it’s a regional and we’re the No. 1 seed, that doesn’t mean that we’re going to get by,” Benet senior Frank Kaminsky said of Tuesday’s close calls by top seeds. “We just had to come out and prove that we were the better team.”
Despite shooting only 11-of-31 from the field in the first half as a team, Benet (28-0) proved that from start to finish Wednesday. The dominance came on the defensive end. The Redwings held Plainfield East (15-12) to 4-of-17 shooting in the half and outrebounded them 23-to-11. That helped Benet enjoy a 31-9 halftime lead.
“I think our defense was key in the first half,” Benet coach Gene Heidkamp said. “I knew that even if we didn’t shoot the ball well, if we defended and rebounded that we would be in the position that we wanted to be in.”
Benet’s three senior leaders all stepped up at various times. In the first 10 minutes, it was Matt Parisi scoring 11 points and hitting three three-pointers.
“We just wanted to work the ball around because we knew they were in a zone,” Parisi said. “We just found open shots in the flow and I was just fortunate enough to knock them down.”
Down the stretch of the second quarter, Kaminsky dominated down low, scoring 10 of his 13 points in the quarter. Then Dave Sobolewski scored five straight points in the third to open the game’s largest lead, 49-16. They combined for 44 points in the win, despite only about three quarters of action.
“I think that just shows that we’re a veteran team that’s unselfish,” Heidkamp said. “We moved the ball to the open man. Just a solid job from start to finish. The strong start carried over to the rest of the game.”
The Bengals finish the season having won seven of their last 10 games. Dondrae Shelton and Jaylen Thompson each scored seven points to pace Plainfield East Wednesday.
“The one thing that hopefully they learn is how important fundamentals are in the game,” Bengals coach Branden Adkins said. “That’s a very fundamentally strong team, probably one of the most fundamentally strong teams I’ve seen in a long time. I feel like we had success. We had 15 wins this year. I feel overall we had a good season and had some growth.”