The Benet boys basketball team prevailed 58-51 over visiting St. Patrick on Friday night in a tough East Suburban Catholic Conference battle.
The battle just needed a little extra time to get going.
With 4:48 left until halftime, the Redwings (12-6, 2-2) were leading 16-4. Up to that point, the Shamrocks (12-6, 1-3) had missed the only two shots they attempted during the second quarter and were 2 of 9 from the field overall. St. Patrick coach Mike Bailey called a timeout to try and regroup his team.
It worked as the Shamrocks made 4 of their next 6 shots to trail just 19-15 at halftime. Three 3-point baskets during that span, including two from Duncan White, who led St. Patrick with 15 points, and one from Adrian Pierzchanowski sparked the rally.
Benet coach Gene Heidkamp said St. Patrick was too good of a team not to battle back after its rough start.
"(The Shamrocks) were cold in the first. They made good shots in the second and we didn't," he said. "I thought it was a solid game for both teams. They're a good team and this was a good, gutty win."
A big key to the victory for the Redwings was their versatility. Big man Sean O'Mara had foul issues, but the rest of the Benet lineup took up the slack. And since O'Mara is double-teamed on a regular basis, opposing teams take the risk of allowing a balanced lineup more freedom to do what it wants.
Liam Nelligan hit for a game-high 22 points, including three 3-pointers, and scored 10 points during the third quarter. That was crucial to the Redwings holding the Shamrocks at bay, 39-35, at the end of the third.
"We moved the ball on offense and were getting stops down the stretch," Nelligan said. "Our defense was tough and (St. Patrick) managed some good shots, but we were able to contain enough spots."
Collin Pellettieri followed with 12 points for Benet, all 3-pointers including 3 in the fourth quarter. Two consecutive 3s from him opened a 10-point advantage for the Redwings. A three-point play from Nicholas Coleman put St. Patrick to within 53-49 with 1:41 left in the contest.
But with just more than a minute left in the game Colin Bonnett, who finished with 10 points, made 3 of 4 free throws and O'Mara made good on a putback to put the win in the books.
"I thought our versatility on offense showed. Sean's our man, but Collin's (Pellettieri) 3s were huge. That's an advantage to having a team focused on Sean. I thought Josh Yesufu added a spark," Heidkamp said.