AURORA – In the first half it was the Sean O'Mara show in the paint. The second half belonged to Collin Pellettieri from the outside.
Benet's senior guard hit a trio of third-quarter 3-pointers and added another one at the start of the fourth quarter as the Redwings defeated Hinsdale Central 61-50 in a semifinal game of the Class 4A East Aurora sectional.
O'Mara scored 16 of his game-high 27 points in the first half, and Pellettieri exploded for 16 of his 22 after intermission as Benet moved on to the sectional championship game at 7 p.m. Friday, where it will play either West Aurora or Geneva. Pellettieri was 4-of-5 from long range in the second half.
"Collin played great, especially in the second half," O'Mara said. "To be able and come out and hit 3-pointers like that was nice. I was able to have a good first half, and then we were able to space them out [on defense]. That kind of balance is what we have this year."
The first half saw eight ties or lead changes. Hinsdale Central's Chase Hamilton knotted the score at 27-27 with a 3-pointer late in the second quarter, and that was the score at the half.
The Redwings (22-6) raced out to a 9-3 lead only to see Central (23-7) grab a 12-11 lead on Jordan Bradshaw's 3-pointer. Grant Lillard hit a three that tied things at 16-16 and Bradshaw's spinning floater leveled the score at 24-24 with 2:36 to play in the second.
But aided by Pellettieri's sharpshooting, Benet started the second half on an 11-3 run from which Central never recovered.
"They outplayed us the first three minutes of the second half, and as everyone knows, aside from the last three minutes, those are the most important three minutes in the game," Hamilton said.
"We hit some shots early in the game, and in the second half those same shots weren't falling," Central head coach Nick Latorre said.
The Red Devils were 10-of-20 from the field in the first half, including 4-of-8 from long range, but in the second half they went 7-of-26.
Hamilton led Central with 12 points with Bradshaw and Thomas Ives netting nine apiece. Matt Rafferty tallied eight points and George Kiernan had six.
Liam Nelligan had eight for the Redwings.