LISLE – The playoffs are sometimes referred to as the second season.
Each team starts with a 0-0 record and a clean slate regardless of how things went during the regular season.
Yet there is also something to be said for gaining momentum heading into the playoffs, and Benet’s boys basketball did that with five consecutive wins to close out the regular season. Heading into the playoff opener against Lemont on Tuesday, the Redwings hadn’t lost a game since falling 77-64 to Stevenson, the defending state runner-up, on Feb. 8.
Benet then started the playoffs with a dominant 81-36 victory over regional host Lemont on Tuesday. The Redwings were lethal from long range in dismantling the Indians and will face Waubonsie Valley for the regional title at 7 p.m. Friday.
Benet closed the regular season with a 59-41 victory against East Suburban Catholic Conference foe Carmel on Feb. 26. With the win, the Redwings finished the regular season with a 19-7 record overall and a 6-2 mark in the ESCC. The defending conference champs, they finished third in the league behind Marian Catholic and St. Viator.
Senior center Sean O’Mara, who recently surpassed 1,500 career points to become the all-time leading scorer in program history, paced the Redwings with 18 points, but several players contributed to the win.
Liam Nelligan nearly recorded a double-double. Daniel Roemer and Colin Bonnett provided points from beyond the arc when Carmel double teamed the 6-foot-9 O’Mara. Roemer and Bonnett combined to hit five 3-pointers.
Nelligan grabbed 13 rebounds while O’Mara had 12 boards.
Benet enjoyed a 12-2 run to end the first quarter, and the hosts carried a 27-15 lead over the Corsairs into intermission. O’Mara had 11 first-half points, and Bonnett scored eight points in the second quarter.
The Corsairs cut the deficit to single digits in the second half, but Benet steadily pulled away for the win.
Not only was the win over Carmel Benet’s fifth straight, it was also the fifth consecutive convincing win for the Redwings. They cruised past ESCC rival Joliet Catholic 72-46 prior to the Carmel game, and also enjoyed comfortable wins over Wheaton Academy (63-48 on Feb. 18), Nazareth (66-45 on Feb. 14) and Rich East (79-44 on Feb. 11) as part of the winning streak.