This one had it all, from four-point plays to acrobatic drives to the basket and dominant play on the interior.
It was another typical night in the ultracompetitive East Suburban Catholic Conference.
Benet, playing its first home game since Nov. 30, treated its fans to a stirring 51-50 victory against highly regarded Marian Catholic on Thursday night thanks to the heroics of senior forward Pat McInerney.
It was McInerneys free throw with 1.8 seconds remaining that broke a 50-50 tie.
McInerney earned two free-throw attempts when he was fouled by Marian Catholics Ki-Jana Crawford while McInerney was attempting a jump shot from just inside the 3-point line as time was expiring in regulation.
I had a one-dribble pullup and I felt (Crawford) behind me and luckily he fouled me because Im not sure (my shot) would have gone in, McInerney, who led the Redwings with 21 points and 11 rebounds. I was just thinking if I was open, I was going to shoot it.
McInerney made the first free throw, the second attempt came up short as teammate Sean OMara knocked the ball back out as time expired, thus preventing the Spartans from taking any type of last shot.
I looked at coach (Gene Heidkamp) and asked if I should miss (the second free throw) on purpose and he said no, McInerney said. So Im going to say I did (miss it on purpose), but I really didnt, but it all worked out.
It didnt appear the Redwings (18-3, 4-0) would need any last-second heroics after they opened up 50-46 advantage with 29 seconds left thanks to a 3-pointer by Eddie Eshoo and a pair of free throws by McInerney. Marian Catholic all-everything junior guard Tyler Ulis kept things exciting as he hit a 3-pointer and was fouled by Benets Jack Euritt with 22 seconds left. Ulis made the free throw to complete the four-point play, which tied the game and set up the dramatic finish.
It was one of those games where it was going to come down to who had the ball last, and unfortunately for us, they had the ball, Marian Catholic coach Mike Taylor said.
The Spartans (16-2, 2-1) had difficulty containing OMara, who stands 6-foot-9. OMara scored 19 points and had 9 rebounds. At the same time Benet struggled mightily to keep Ulis under control as Ulis finished with a game-high 25 points, 12 in the final quarter.
We knew what OMara was and that we didnt have a way to really stop him, Taylor said. And they couldnt handle Tyler.
It was Benets second one-point win in ESCC play. The Redwings toppled Notre Dame 42-41 on Jan. 4.
Ulis is an amazing player, McInerney said. I cant say enough about him. We got a lead there and then it was back and forth. It was a great ESCC game.