Redwings ready for sectional after big regional win
Redwings 'excited' for sectional after winning by 26 in regional championship game.
LISLE — Pat McInerney didn't score much in the second half.
He didn't have to.
The Benet senior had two steals, three assists and 12 points in the first quarter and helped the Redwings explode out of the gate on their way to a 62-36 win over Naperville Central in Friday's Class 4A regional championship game at Benet.
"I saw a couple shots go in and I fed off the crowd," said McInerney, who had 18 points at halftime and finished with a game-high 19. "I was feeling it a little bit and my teammates did a great job of putting me in positions where I had open shots."
McInerney scored 12 points in the first quarter, getting a steal and layup on Naperville Central's first possession of the game. Benet raced out to a 21-5 lead after a quarter, led 36-11 at halftime and enjoyed a 56-24 lead with seven minutes left to play.
Sean O'Mara finished the game with 13 points. Colin Bonnett had six, Eddie Eshoo five, and Jack Toner, Jack Euritt and Robert Haemmerle four points apiece for Benet.
As much as the Redwings' offense impressed, it was their defense, which limited the Redhawks to a 13-of-39 shooting performance, that was the key to the hot start and the big victory. It will be key again as they move on to the Bolingbrook sectional this week.
"Defensively we had a really good two games," Benet coach Gene Heidkamp said of his team's two regional wins. "I think that gets overshadowed when the ball goes in the basket, but there's going to be games when the ball doesn't go in the basket and we need to give ourselves a chance, and that's why our defense is so crucial."
Heidkamp lauded the strength of the sectional, which had a 20-win Geneva team seeded 12th and a three-loss Lemont team as a No. 9 seed. The Redwings were convincing in two regional wins, but the coach wasn't about to let his team get too far ahead of itself.
"As corny as it sounds, it's one game at a time," Heidkamp said. "We've played really good teams so far and now you're getting into an elite level of teams. It's fun this time of year because you're playing some of the best teams in the whole Chicagoland area, and we're going to have to play really well Wednesday to win. We've got a lot of work to do between now and then. We're not satisfied, but we'll certainly take a second and appreciate what we accomplished because this was no easy task."
As a four-year varsity player, McInerney has played in his share of big games for the Redwings, including a supersectional thriller against Simeon in 2010. He said he was going to share some of his first-hand experience with his teammates as they got ready to face the Wildcats.
"Some of the guys were on the team two years ago when we played in the sectional semifinals, but whenever you get there you're going to be nervous, you're going to have butterflies," McInerney said. "I know I will. I've been playing for four years and I still get butterflies before a big game. But it will be fun. I'm excited."
Who: No. 3 Neuqua Valley vs. No. 2 Benet
What: Class 4A Bolingbrook sectional semifinal
When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday
Where: Bolingbrook High School, 365 Raider Way, Bolingbrook
Note: The sectional semifinal was originally scheduled for Wednesday but was pushed back because Tuesday's inclement weather forced the West Aurora-Oswego sectional semi to be moved from Tuesday to Wednesday.
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