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Boys basketball preview: Benet set up for another solid season

Published: Monday, Dec. 2, 2013 5:30 p.m. CDT
Benet's Sean O'Mara puts up a shot in a game against York last season. O'Mara, a senior center and Xavier University recruit, will be a key player for the Redwings this winter. (Photo by Bill Ackerman - backerman@shawmedia.com)

LISLE – Benet’s boys basketball team has its sights set on another conference championship and deep playoff run this winter.

The Redwings are a combined 103-18 in the last four years, winning three East Suburban Catholic Conference championships in that time span. Last season, Benet finished 27-6, taking home a conference title and playing for a sectional championship.

With a team loaded with senior experience and Division I talent, Benet head coach Gene Heidkamp believes that this season’s squad can take the next step and make a run to the state finals in Peoria.

“We have all the necessary skills and physical tools to be a very good team,” Heidkamp said. “I think our success will hinge on defense and rebounding.”

Team defense and rebounding often stems from the low post, and with D-I recruit Sean O’Mara manning the paint, the Redwings appear to be in pretty good shape.

A Xavier University commit, O’Mara is a 6-foot-9-inch center who averaged 16 points, eight rebounds and 3.5 assists per game last season while constantly drawing double and triple teams. One of the best post players in the area, O’Mara continues to develop his offensive repertoire.

“He has a full arsenal of moves in the low block,” Heidkamp said. “He is a great scorer and continues to extend his range. But he also has fantastic vision and consistently finds the open man.”

Since O’Mara will undoubtedly lure multiple defenders to the paint whenever he has the ball, Benet’s guards and perimeter shooters will be counted on to hit open shots from outside.

Returners Colin Bonnett and Collin Pellettieri man the Redwings’ starting backcourt. The team’s main ballhandler, Pellettieri can also knock down mid and long-range jumpers.

A 6-foot-3-inch junior, Bonnett’s defensive prowess enables him to get out in the open court and create offense. He can also shoot well from beyond the arc. They will receive support from Liam Nelligan and Josh Yesufu.

After attending Benet during his freshman year, Nelligan moved to Singapore with his family. He returns as a 6-foot-4-inch senior who can play the wing and is an effective shooter and rebounder.

Yesufu is an athletic guard and one of the quickest players on the Redwings’ roster. Sophomore shooting guard Dan Sobolewski will also see playing time.

So far, Heidkamp likes the team’s budding chemistry.

“All these guys complement each other very well,” Heidkamp said. “I feel like we have a lot of weapons on the offensive end – they all fit together and understand their roles.”

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