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Pat McInerney (32) of Benet Academy drives as Chandler Thomas of West Aurora defends. | Jon Cunningham~For Sun-Times Media ORG XMIT: email@example.com Jon Cunningham
This team was on fire.
Benet coach Gene Heidkamp wondered Saturday how his No. 6 team would react to a tough, one-point conference loss the night before as it prepared for No. 16 West Aurora in a game that figured to weigh heavily in next week’s seeding for the Class 4A Bolingbrook Sectional.
It didn’t take long to find out.
The Redwings shot 65 percent (17 of 26) from the floor in the first half, hitting from inside and out as they built a 40-21 lead at the break in the middle game of the renamed Jim and Sylvia Roberts Night of Hoops tripleheader at Batavia. Benet (19-4) continued its solid play in the second half en route to a 62-50 victory against West Aurora.
“That might have been our best half of the season, at least offensively it was clearly our best half,” said Heidkamp. "We moved the ball real, we shot the ball very well and we had good balance of inside and outside scoring.”
Jack Euritt was the recipient of a pair of pinpoint passes early that he converted for layups. The first was from 6-foot-9 junior center Sean O’Mara and the second from 6-5 forward Pat McInerney, who handled point guard duties with starter Collin Pellettieri on the bench in street clothes, his arm in a sling after suffering a separated shoulder the night before.
Euritt, who added a pair of first-quarter three-pointers to offset two treys by West Aurora center Josh McAuley, finished with a game-high 18 points. O’Mara added 13 points and McInerney 12 to go with nine rebounds and four assists.
“Everything was going in in the first half,” said McInerney. “It’s fun to play like that. We could have played a little better defensively in the first quarter. They hit a couple threes but the offense was something, 40 points in a half is pretty good.”
The 6-7 McAuley, who finished with 16 points, eight rebounds and four blocks, showed his range with those bombs and the Blackhawks also got threes from people who usually don’t shoot from outside with Chandler Thomas making three and twin brother Spencer one.
“I don’t think that’s the type of game we want to get into,” West coach Gordie Kerkman said of the rain of treys. “We lost our cool, I think, and forced some shots.”
West, which took advantage of 12 second-half Benet turnovers to outscore the Redwings 29-22 in the second half, but never got the deficit under 10 points. The Blackhawks got 13 points from Chandler Thomas but were out-rebounded 34-20.
“We didn’t get up on their shooters in the first half and it’s an area we’ve been sort of emphasizing because people are hitting a lot of threes on us. They ran some good offense,” said Kerkman, conceding the team will hurt his 18-4 team in seeding.
As for Heidkamp?
“I hope we’re a top four seed. I think our body of work speaks for itself if you look at our schedule and the number of quality wins that we have,” he said. “Really, though, today was about bouncing back after a tough loss last night.”