Benet boys ride defense to pair of dominant regional playoff wins

Redwings face Hinsdale Central in East Aurora sectional semifinal at 7 p.m. today

LEMONT – Sean O’Mara had his pick of what helped Benet’s boys basketball emerge with a convincing win in Friday’s regional championship game at Lemont High School.

Solid shooting, rebounding and defense, the Redwings did it all in a 57-33 win against Waubonsie Valley, but O’Mara picked defense as the difference-maker.

“The defense, especially, and we hit the glass both offensively and defensively,” O’Mara said. “It was a good win for us. Waubonsie is a good team and we came out strong defensively.”

As O’Mara touted Benet’s defense as it won its fourth consecutive regional title, somewhere head coach Gene Heidkamp’s ears must have been ringing.

“I think our defense was most impressive,” Heidkamp said. “I think earlier in the season we did not defend as well as we would have liked. I thought defensively in both [regional] games we came out and established ourselves pretty well and did a pretty good job of holding teams to one shot. I think the defense was the key to this.”

Benet (21-7) opened the postseason with an 81-36 victory against Lemont in a regional semifinal game and then dominated Waubonsie as it advanced to today’s East Aurora sectional semifinal game, where it will face Hinsdale Central.

The Redwings shot 7-of-15 from the field in the first quarter and raced out to a 16-2 lead after the first stanza, during which O’Mara had a pair of dunks and three blocks on the defensive end.

Benet expanded on its 24-8 halftime lead by shooting 8-of-11 in the third quarter. The Redwings led 46-14 entering the fourth quarter, at which time O’Mara had 15 points and Waubonsie (19-10) had just six field goals.

Winning a regional is never a given and Benet didn’t take it for granted, but for a team with larger goals it was one step on what it hopes is a long journey to the state finals.

“It feels awesome being a senior and winning a regional. I couldn’t ask for more,” said Dan Roemer, who scored all six of his points on a pair of 3-pointers in the second quarter. “Hopefully we can keep winning these games, hopefully win a sectional and keep going.”

“To me, it’s another regional, which is good, but we have our eyes on bigger goals right now,” O’Mara said. “We’re taking it one game at a time, but every win in the playoffs is a big win.”