Benet coach Gene Heidkamp didn't know what to expect from Redondo Union (Calif.) going into the Chicago Elite Classic, so he told his team to just play its game.
That's what the Redwings did to defeat the Sea Hawks 55-46 on Saturday at UIC Pavilion.
"We looked good in the fourth quarter," Heidkamp said. "The first three quarters we struggled. We didn't have much flow offensively, I credit their defense for that. We didn't rebound the ball very well today. It's going to have to get better if we are going to have a chance to be a real good team this year. We pulled it out in the fourth quarter playing much better on both ends."
"This was the least prepared we've been for a game," said Benet senior Sean O'Mara. "It's weird going into a game not having a clue. All we knew was what their stats said. That's part of the why we struggled in the first half. It was a learning experience as well."
Despite not playing well at the start, the determined Redwings (5-0) put it all together late in the game with outside shooting.
"The shooting was solid," Heidkamp said. "We got open shots because we made hustle plays and we got our guys in positions to make those open shots and those guys made the shots when it counted. Obviously in the fourth quarter it was a total team effort."
The Sea Hawks (4-1) took a 21-19 lead into the half on a buzzer-beating shot by Leland Green. In the second half the Redwings found the mark.
"Once we were able to open up and break their press and find the open guys we started to finally start knocking them down," said Benet's Collin Pelletieri. "We're rooted at defense, we held them to 21 points at the half. They were hurting us on the offensive boards. Coach told us if we win the offensive boards, we will be able to come out and win."
With the score tied at 35-35 with six minutes left in the game, Liam Nelligan hit a 3-point basket and Josh Yesufu following with a basket to give the Redwings a 40-35 lead.
"You just have to stick to what you do best," said Nelligan, who was the game high scorer with 16 points. "We played defense well in the first half. On offense we have enough weapons to come along no matter what happens."
Pelletieri hit two 3-pointers and Colin Bonnet added one more to put the game away.
"It's nice," Pelletieri said. "Right when I had those last shots I knew they were going in. Those were big 3s."