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Benet's Sean O'Mara (left) puts up a shot over Naperville Central's Rob Suntken during their game Saturday evening at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates. Benet won 46-35. | Michael R. Schmidt ~ For Sun-Times Media
Taking the floor for the first time in nine days, Benet got an opportunity to engage the rest versus rust debate.
If its effort against Naperville Central on Saturday was any indication, it seemed like it had never left the floor.
Scoring the game's first nine points, No. 6 Benet took charge from the onset en route to recording a 46-35 victory over Naperville Central Saturday night at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates as part of the 16th Annual National Guard High School Hoops Showdown.
"I thought, offensively, we got off to a pretty good start," Benet coach Gene Heidkamp said. "Thought we moved the ball pretty well and made some timely shots early on in the game."
Benet senior forward Pat McInerney recorded a double-double in scoring a game-high 13 points and pulling down 13 rebounds.
"Our defense was a lot better, obviously, [Saturday] than it was back in November," McInerney said. "I think our football guys are back in basketball shape. We were a little sluggish back then."
Avenging its 57-54 overtime loss to the Redhawks on Nov. 23 in the midst of extending its winning streak to seven, Benet (19-3) has won 12 of its last 13 games.
O'Mara, after scoring just two points in the first half, scored 10 points in the third as the Redwings doubled the Redhawks through three quarters at 36-18.
"I credit that a lot to [McInerney], too. He hit me with, I think it was like, three great passes in a row and it just kind of got me going a little bit," said O'Mara, who finished with 12 points.
With McInerney and O'Mara providing a presence inside, the Redwings collectively hit five 3-pointers as a team in the first half, including three from guard Eddie Eshoo, on their way to posting a 24-12 halftime lead.
One night after moving to a game of the DuPage Valley Conference lead after beating Glenbard East by 21 points, Naperville Central (13-7) had difficulty scoring and executing all night.
Shooting 27.3 percent as a team, no Redhawk starter reached double figures, with junior center Nick Czarnowski and reserve Taylor Zelinski leading the way with seven points each.
"Really, when you look at the game, it was a frustrating game," Naperville Central coach Pete Kramer said. "The biggest frustration was we just didn't shoot the ball well. That hasn't happened much this year."