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If Benet's boys basketball team has learned one thing this season, it's to be ready for anything.
In Friday's East Suburban Catholic Conference tussle against St. Patrick, the Shamrocks came to Lisle intent on squeezing the life out of every grinding possession. Effective as the slow-down strategy was, however, Benet again found the answer.
Despite being held to its lowest point total this season, Benet also allowed its fewest points defensively in a 36-23 win over St. Patrick.
Combined with Carmel's upset win over Notre Dame, the Redwings (23-0, 9-0) wrapped up a share of their second straight ESCC title with three games still remaining.
"It was a slow-paced game," said Benet guard Matt Parisi, who scored all of his 9 points in the second half. "We didn't actually expect them to slow it down like that. They just wanted to slow us down and contain us and just try to make us play their style. We still pulled it out despite what they tried to throw at us."
St. Patrick (11-9, 4-5) ran more than two minutes off the clock before taking a 2-0 lead on Elijah Watson's putback. After a week away from the court, Benet senior guard Dave Sobolewski returned from a back injury and scored all 8 of his points in the first quarter on his first three shots.
Sobolewski's final basket, a 3-pointer, gave Benet the lead for good at 9-6 midway through the first quarter. The Northwestern-bound point guard played the rest of the game but took only four more shots.
"You know, I'm in pain but it's definitely improving," Sobolewski said. "I couldn't have played at this time last week, so I'm excited. I'll take care of it tonight and tomorrow morning, and I'll be ready to play Marist tomorrow night."
Benet, despite 1-of-10 second-quarter shooting, took an 18-12 lead to the half after holding the Shamrocks to a single second-quarter point on a free throw with 1:07 left.
Three-pointers by Parisi and Frank Kaminsky, who scored a game-high 11 points, at the start of the fourth quarter put the Redwings ahead 31-23. Holding St. Patrick scoreless for the final 6:26 of the game, Benet closed with an 8-0 run.
"You're going to give yourself a real good chance to win if you only give up 23 points," said Benet coach Gene Heidkamp. "Even though it wasn't pretty, our guys found a way to get the job done."