Great start lifts Benet past Glenbard East

  • Blake Lantero,left, and Kevin Doyle of Benet are all smiles after their win in the Class 4A Neuqua Valley sectional final with Glenbard East Friday .

    Blake Lantero,left, and Kevin Doyle of Benet are all smiles after their win in the Class 4A Neuqua Valley sectional final with Glenbard East Friday . Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

Published: 3/13/2010 12:01 AM

Benet did so much right early in Friday night's game, the Redwings left nothing for Glenbard East to call its own.

The third-seeded Redwings cruised to a 68-54 victory against Glenbard East at a soldout Class 4A Neuqua Valley sectional final in Naperville. The Redwings will meet Simeon in Tuesday night's Hinsdale Central supersectional.

"I'm sure there were some little things here and there, but it was definitely a great start for us," Benet senior Mike Runger said.

Those little things were turnovers, and Benet collected 19 for the game, including 5 on their first six possessions. Those early turnovers only delayed the Redwings instead of stopping them.

Benet (26-3) took the lead for good on a Dave Sobolewski 3-pointer late in the first quarter. Another Sobolewski 3-pointer two seconds before the halftime buzzer made it 27-16.

Benet made 71 percent of its first-half shots, holding the Rams (27-2) to 27 percent.

"It was a great start," added Benet junior Matt Parisi. "We shot the ball really well. That just helped us throughout the whole game because when you come out with a great start you just feel so confident."

"Looking back on the whole thing I just felt the first half we dug ourselves too big a hole," Glenbard East coach Scott Miller added. "We forced some shots and didn't get looks we normally do, and when we did get good looks we didn't knock them down."

The Benet defense had a lot to do with that, holding Rams All-Area players Lee Skinner and Johnny Hill scoreless in the first half.

"Those are two great players, and if you let them get comfortable they're going to score points, so we really wanted to attack them on defense and make them uncomfortable," Runger said. "Coach set us up with a great defensive game plan."

"To hold that team to 16 points at half is a real nice half for us," Benet coach Gene Heidkamp said after holding the Rams to a season-low point total. "They're a very explosive basketball team. So I was pleased with our execution in the first half. But we knew they were going to come at us and give us a ton of pressure. We were a long, long way from being comfortable at halftime."

The lead ranged between 10 and 18 points in the second half, as Glenbard East mounted a furious comeback attempt. Senior guard Jack Merrithey led the way, hitting four 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, but Benet always seemed to have an answer.

"They hit some huge shots to cut it back down, but we ended up breaking their pressure and getting some easy baskets," Parisi said. "That helped us stabilize our lead."

"We felt like we gave them a couple times too many good looks, but they just made more plays than we did tonight too," Miller added. "They made plays and we didn't, and that was the difference."

Sobolewski led all scorers with 32 points to raise his postseason average to 29 a game. He also controlled the pace of the game from his point guard spot.

"He's kind of got that 'wow' factor where anytime he's got the ball you know something can happen," Runger said of Sobolewski. "Especially at the end of games he does a great job of controlling the tempo and making sure the other team doesn't get any life."

Parisi added 19 points and did yeoman's work defensively.

Merrithey finished with 15 points to lead Glenbard East, with senior center Shawn Havenga adding 12, Zach Miller 11 and Skinner 10.

"I don't know if we controlled the game, but we wanted to make them earn everything that they had," Heidkamp said. "The tempo was more to where we wanted it. I know they average 70 points a game. They're explosive and very talented and well-coached, and we knew if the game ever got to that tempo we would have difficulty."