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Benet played solid team defense and was physical on the boards en route to a 49-45 win over a previously unbeaten York squad.
The stars did not come out to play Tuesday in Lisle. Benet big man Sean O’Mara and York sharpshooter David Cohn are two of the area’s dominant forces, but they fell prey to solid team defense and cold shooting, leaving both teams to slog it out without their regular offensive stars.
That left the spotlight to Benet senior Pat McInerney. The 6-5 senior has a football player’s build and mentality. His single-minded need for the ball led the Redwings to a 49-44 win over the No. 15 Dukes.
McInerney finished with eight points and 14 rebounds — an astounding total in such a low-scoring, deliberate game. To put it in perspective, the entire York team only managed 20 boards.
“The team’s motto is, ‘When the ball goes up, go get it,’” McInerney said. “So that’s what I tried to do.”
O’Mara scored 14 and grabbed five rebounds, but was hounded all night by 6-8 York junior Frank Toohey (10 points). The Redwings found their offense behind the arc, shooting 5-of-12 from three-point range.
McInerney also played a vital part in getting O’Mara his points. As most high school teams do, Benet can have difficulty getting the ball to their talented big. McInerney and O’Mara have developed some chemistry. It seems as if McInerney knows right when and where to put the ball for O’Mara.
“I figured some of that out when I played with [former Benet star and current Wisconsin player Frank] Kaminsky,” McInerney said. “But that is all we do in practice, high-low and high-low. We do that a ton.”
Benet led throughout the game, but a five-minute scoring drought in the second half let York (4-1) back in. The Dukes cut Benet’s lead to three on a basket by Charlie Rose with 18 seconds to play.
Redwings junior Collin Pellettieri then drained four straight free throws to seal the win.
“I was just trying to get open so we could get the ball inbounded,” Pellettieri said. “I’ve been pretty consistent from the line overall. I shot some free throws at the end of a game last week, but nothing as big or as stressful as this.”
Cohn, a Colorado State recruit, scored a game-high 19 points and had seven steals. But the 6-2 senior might be having some trouble adjusting to being a big-name star.
“Defenses are definitely keying on me a lot more this season,” Cohn said. “It’s frustrating. Tonight was my fault. I can still be effective if I pass the ball and my teammates score. That would open things up for me. I have to get my teammates involved more.”
He did that in the second half, dishing off three assists. Cohn was also able to get in the lane and do some damage at the free-throw line, shooting 9-for-10. Cohn shot 5-for-16 from the field, but most of the makes were layups. The Redwings (4-1) essentially shut him down in the half-court sets.
“Obviously I have to give a little bit of credit to the defense,” Cohn said. “But my shots just weren’t falling. It was one of those days, pretty frustrating.”
McInerney said Benet watched lots of film of Cohn.
“York is a great team and he is a great player,” McInerney said. “It’s tough to shut him down or limit him, but everyone on the team did their job. The coaches had a great game plan for him.”