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The start of Friday night's game between Geneva and Benet at the Plainfield North Holiday Tournament was delayed for 10 minutes due to the Vikings' late-arriving bus. The Redwings, on the other hand, didn't actually start playing for another five minutes after that.
By that time they trailed 6-0, saw Geneva score on two offensive rebounds from Dan Trimble and a layup by Brendan Leahy, and had turnovers on their first three possessions, forcing coach Gene Heidkamp to spend an early timeout. That was the wakeup call his squad needed as the Redwings responded by scoring the final 16 points of the quarter 14 in the last three minutes and then didn't look back on the way to a 57-36 victory.
"I told them we needed to wake up," Heidkamp said. "We gave up two offensive rebounds and a layup on their third basket, so we just had to wake up."
The alarm clock came in the form of a full-court press that began to frazzle the Vikings (5-6), who had 5 turnovers over the final four minutes of the first quarter. Benet's Dave Sobolewski hit a pair of 3-pointers to kick-start Benet's run, and then after he had made a pair of free throws with 37 seconds left he stole the inbound pass and laid the ball in to complete the Redwings' 16-point spurt.
"We were trying to impose our will on them, and that's hard to do against a team like Benet, but we were taking smart shorts, attacking the offensive rim and controlling the pace like we wanted to," said Geneva coach Phil Ralston. "It just seems like Benet has so many weapons, and then they hit a couple 3s, we had a couple turnovers, the big guy (7-foot senior Frank Kaminsky) started ducking in, and it was like a whirlwind. They hit some tough shots and that's what makes Benet Benet."
The wind kept blowing the rest of the night as the Redwings (9-0) pushed the advantage to 27-9 at one point in the second quarter and led 42-23 after three periods thanks in large part to Matt Parisi's trio of 3-point baskets in the quarter. Any thoughts of a stirring Geneva comeback were extinguished in the first four minutes of the final quarter as the Redwings scored nine straight points four from Sean O'Mara, another Parisi 3 and Kaminsky's putback dunk.
In addition to the scoring exploits of Sobolewski, Kaminsky and Parisi, Heidkamp pointed to the all-around play of "unsung hero" Pat McInerny, who contributed 4 points, 4 assists, 2 steals and a blocked shot to the effort. The Vikings were led by 12 points and 8 rebounds from Trimble.
Benet's win sets up a showdown for the tournament championship with host Plainfield North at 1:30 p.m. today, something that Sobolewski is definitely looking forward to.
"We'll be ready for the championship game," he said. "We've never won this tournament, so we'll definitely be ready for the game."