AURORA – Chase Hamilton has played in enough basketball games to know about one big key to victory.
Unfortunately for the Hinsdale Central senior and his teammates, Benet was the team that held that key in Tuesday’s Class 4A sectional semifinal game at East Aurora.
The Redwings won the third quarter and dealt the Red Devils a 61-50 defeat.
“They came out and outplayed us the first three minutes of the second half,” Hamilton said, “and as everyone knows, aside from the last three minutes, those are the most important three minutes in the game.”
Central (23-7) found itself in a 9-3 hole early in the game, but battled back to forge a 27-27 halftime tie.
Jordan Bradshaw’s 3-pointer put the Red Devils ahead 11-9 late in the first quarter. Grant Lillard drained a trey that knotted the score at 16-16 early in the second before Bradshaw’s spinning floater gave Central a 20-19 lead with five minutes left in the first half. Hamilton’s 3-pointer with 1:28 to go before the half again tied the score.
But after intermission, Benet blitzed Central with an 11-3 run to take control of the game.
Collin Pellettieri hit a trio of 3-pointers early in the third, then drained another at the start of the fourth quarter to put the Redwings ahead 45-33. Pellettieri scored 16 of his 22 points after halftime. Benet’s Sean O’Mara led all scorers with 27 points.
“They hit two quick threes and then we struggled to score,” Central head coach Nick Latorre said.
Hamilton’s bucket with 5:05 left drew Central to within 47-38, but the Red Devils then went scoreless for nearly three minutes as the deficit swelled to 54-38. Thomas Ives hit a pair of three-pointers with under two minutes to play to provide some excitement, but it was too little, too late for the Red Devils.
“We hit some shots early in the game, and in the second half those same shots weren’t falling,” Latorre said. “I think they’re very difficult to play against. They guarded us and we struggled to get clear looks at the basket.”