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Milwaukee Hamilton’s 6-9 senior Kevon Looney was one of the prized attractions at Saturday’s 17th annual High School Hoops Showdown at Hinsdale Central in a stunning 61-59 victory over No. 18 Benet.
But it was the three-point theatrics of Danya Kingsby (20 points) and Jhamad Norwood (23 points) that stole the show as the Wildcats made 14 three-pointers to overcome a 19-point deficit.
“The story of the game was our lack of play really between the three-minute mark of the second quarter to the beginning of the fourth quarter,” Redwings coach Gene Heidkamp said. “It was our inability to score during that time.”
Benet led 17-8 after one quarter and kept piling on at the beginning of the second. Collin Pellettieri hit a pair of threes in a 13-3 run to give the Redwings a 30-11 lead with 3:20 left in the half.
That’s when the game turned.
Milwaukee Hamilton (8-5) closed the second quarter on a 10-0 run, highlighted by two three-pointers from Jhamad Norwood, who was just heating up.
Norwood single-handedly took the game over in the third quarter, making four three-pointers. Kingsby made a pair as well, for good measure, while Benet’s only basket during the quarter was a long two-pointer from Liam Nelligan. It came with 5:33 left in the quarter as the Redwings were held without another point until Nelligan sank a three-pointer in the opening minute of the fourth.
“We got tentative against their zone which is uncharacteristic for us,” Benet coach Gene Heidkamp said. “And I think that [12-minute] stretch where they put a [31-2] run against us was the difference in the game.”
Nelligan’s three-pointer pulled Benet (11-6) to within 42-35 and seemed to spring some life into the lethargic offense.
In the final two minutes, Pellettieri (19 points) made back-to-back three-pointers to make it a one-possession game at 54-51. But Norwood made two baskets inside and the Wildcats converted 3-of-4 free throws in the final 25 seconds.
“They’re a great team and are not going to miss wide open shots,” O’Mara said. “We just can’t take a quarter off like we did. They beat us 18-2 in the third quarter and that’s where we lost the game.”
Nelligan all night defended Looney, a prized UCLA recruit, and limited him to seven points while scoring 17.
“Liam did a great job of focusing on Looney,” Pellettieri said. “The kid’s averaging 30 points and going to UCLA for a reason.”
O’Mara finished with 17 points and nine rebounds.