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Colin Bonnett (11) of Benet Academy accelerates past Jack Barry of Marist. | Jon Cunningham~For Sun-Times Media
With the likes of senior forward Pat McInerney and junior center Sean O’Mara controlling the inside, punching it inside is certainly always an option for Benet.
But in cruising to a 50-28 victory over Marist on Friday in Lisle, No. 7 Benet continued to show its offensive versatility extends beyond the paint.
McInerney was his usual stout self in pacing everyone with a game-high 17 points but it was the Redwings’ prowess from the perimeter that proved pivotal for the second time this week.
Coming off a performance on Tuesday at Wheaton Academy where the Redwings convert on nine three-pointers as a team, Benet converted nine three-pointers collectively for the second time in as many games.
“I feel like our shooting ability outside is really attributed to our inside game because [opponents] have to focus so much attention in on Sean and [McInerney], that we’re getting open looks on the edge,” said senior guard Jack Toner, who chipped in with three three-pointers on his way towards11 points. “If we keep shooting like that, it’ll be tough to guard both inside and outside.”
With the victory, the Redwings clinched at least a piece of their third East Suburban Catholic Conference title in the last four years.
“To win in this conference [is tough]. This conference is awesome,” Benet coach Gene Heidkamp said. “There are so many great teams this year. To have a piece of it, I think, is something that we feel good about. We still have one game left and, obviously, we’d like to play well in that last game. So it’s nice to have a piece of it, but if we’re able to do so, we’d like to do our best to win on Wednesday.”
Benet (23-4, 6-1) can win the title outright with a win at home on Wednesday against Nazareth.
Serving as a microcosm for the entire night, McInerney isolated the rest of the floor as time was expiring in the third quarter and hit on the Redwings’ ninth, and final, three-pointer on the night to give the Redwings a 43-25 lead entering the fourth.
“We had a ball screen for me at the top [of the key] and they switched and the big guy was on me. So [I] kind of stepped back, used my length and luckily it went in,” said McInerney, who hit three three-pointers. “Probably more luck than skill, but I’ll take it.”
The Redwings hit on six three-pointers collectively in the first half as Toner and senior Jack Euritt hit two threes apiece as part of a 24-10 Benet run to end the first half.
McInerney tallied nine points in the first half, including converting a pair of conventional three-point plays, during the Redwings’ surge, which turned a quick 8-4 deficit into a 28-18 halftime lead.
Senior guard L.J. McIntosh had a team-high 12 points for Marist (16-9, 3-4), which was held to a season-low 28 points on the night.