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Benet blows by West Aurora
By John Lemon | Daily Herald Staff

Benet Academy’s Pat McInerney drives to the basket against West Aurora during the 20th anniversary Night of Hoops at Batavia High School Saturday night.


JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

JOE LEWNARD/ Benet Academy's Sean O'Mara makes a move in the post against West Aurora during the 20th anniversary Night of Hoops at Batavia High School Saturday night.


Joe Lewnard.

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Published: 2/3/2013 1:00 AM

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Pitting the area’s No. 1 and No. 2 ranked teams, the second game Saturday at Batavia’s 20th annual Jim and Sylvia Roberts Night of Hoops looked like a can’t-miss pick for one of the games of the year.

Turns out it was just Benet who couldn’t miss.

The Redwings blistered the nets in the first half, hitting 68 percent of their shots from the field including 4 of 5 from beyond the arc.

That sizzling start enabled No. 1 Benet to build a 19-point halftime lead over No. 2 West Aurora. The Redwings cooled a bit in the second half, though never enough to allow the Blackhawks to get within single digits on their way to an impressive 62-50 victory.

The teams could meet again next month at the East Aurora sectional.

“Might have been our best half of our season,” said Benet coach Gene Heidkamp, whose team bounced back from a 1-point loss to St. Viator Friday that snapped its 7-game winning streak.

“We moved the ball well, we shot the ball well. Good balance of inside and outside shooting. Cleary one of our best if not our best half.”

West Aurora (17-4) matched Benet (20-4) for much of the first quarter. Josh McAuley, West Aurora’s 6-foot-7 center, continued to show his improved range with a 3-pointer for a 3-2 West Aurora lead that turned out to be the Blackhawks’ only one of the game.

Coming off a 29-point game Friday at Glenbard North, McAuley kept hitting from deep in his matchup against 6-9 Sean O’Mara. His second 3 cut into a 15-7 Benet lead, and his 19-footer brought West Aurora within 19-16 after the first quarter.

While Benet stayed hot making 9 of 12 shots in the second quarter, the Blackhawks struggled at 2 of 10. The Redwings dominated the quarter 21-5 to take a 40-21 halftime lead.

At one point Pat McInerney made four long jumpers in a three-minute stretch including an 18-footer he swished while getting fouled.

“Everything was going in,” McInerney said. “It’s fun playing like that. Everyone was hot, 40 points in a half is pretty darn good. It’s fun playing basketball when you hit shots like that.”

McInerney’s hot shooting followed Jack Euritt’s 10-point first quarter as Benet took command despite O’Mara being held to 5 first-half points.

McInerney filled in at point guard for Collin Pellettieri who separated his shoulder in Friday night’s loss.

“When you go through the course of the season other guys have to step up and fortunately tonight some other kids stepped up,” said Heidkamp, adding he is unsure how long Pellettieri will be sidelined.

Chandler Thomas played the main role in West Aurora’s attempt at a second-half comeback. The senior forward scored 8 straight points for the Blackhawks — including a pair of 3s — as they pulled as close as 42-31 with three minutes left in the third quarter.

Benet quickly regrouped, starting with another Euritt bucket, and Robert Haemmerle drained a corner 3 as the third-quarter clock wound down to give the Redwings a 50-35 lead going to the fourth quarter.

O’Mara scored 6 of his 13 points in the final quarter including a couple midrange jumpers as Benet stretched its lead back to 18 points.

“We lost our cool I thought and started forcing some shots,” West Aurora coach Gordie Kerkman said. “They ran some good offense. They had much better ball movement than we did. They played very good defense on us, and we dribbled the ball too much. You are not going to get many good shots doing that.”

Euritt led all scorers with 18 points, O’Mara had 13 and McInerney 12 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists as the Redwings controlled the boards 35-20.

Thomas and McAuley both scored 16 points for the Blackhawks while leading scorer Jontrel Walker was held to 9.

Follow John Lemon on Twitter@jlemonDH