Senior Night could not have been any sweeter for the eight seniors on Benet's boys basketball team Saturday night.
They clinched the East Suburban Catholic title outright with a 62-55 win over Marist in Lisle.
Benet (24-0, 10-0) trailed 37-34 at the half as the Redhawks (12-9, 5-5) hit eight 3-pointers and that prompted Benet coach Gene Heidkamp to urge his team to close out better on the defensive end of the floor in the second half.
"I told my team to play better defense in the second half and get a hand in the face of their shooters," Heidkamp said. "We needed to get more stops. They made us pay in the first half for not contesting shots."
Benet did what Heidkamp asked and picked up its defensive intensity and quickly took control of the game early in the third quarter when the Redwings went on a 9-1 run to start the second half. Marist did not lead again the rest of the game, nor did it hit another 3-pointer the rest of the game.
"We shot really well in the first half from distance," Marist coach Gene Nolan said. "To knock down 8 in a half is outstanding. We are a good shooting team, but we did not expect to duplicate that in the second half. But to shoot as poorly as we did says a lot about Benet. They really got up on our guys."
The Redwings got a solid effort on the glass with two players reaching double-doubles; Frank Kaminsky had 12 points and 12 rebounds, and sophomore Pat McInerney had 12 points and 11 rebounds. McInerney, who usually starts, came off the bench since it was Senior Night, replaced by senior James Roemer, who chipped in with 11 points.
"We knew this year was going to be really special," McInerney said. "We have such great senior leadership and talent on this team. The seniors have really carried us all season. It makes it easy to play on this team."
Benet senior Matt Parisi scored a game-high 19 points in the win. Kaminsky also chipped in with 5 blocked shots and 5 assists.