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Simply put, it was textbook Benet boys basketball.
The Redwings continued their workmanlike playoff run with Tuesday's 61-50 victory over Hinsdale Central in the Class 4A East Aurora sectional semifinals.
Six-foot-nine Xavier-bound senior center Sean O'Mara dominated with 27 points, 7 rebounds and 2 blocks while Collin Pellettieri made six 3-pointers to help top-seeded Benet (22-7) dictate the outcome with its patented inside-outside game.
Most important, though, the Redwings played trademark stellar defense coming out of halftime in a tie game. An 8-0 run to start the third quarter, powered by a pair of Pellettieri 3-pointers, pushed Benet to a lead it never gave up as the Redwings allowed only 6 points in the period.
"We really came out hot to start the second half," Pellettieri said. "Once they start taking away Sean, the perimeter shooters are wide open. And this whole season we've been able to consistently knock down shots. We were able to do that again tonight."
Benet's reward is a sectional final matchup against Wednesday's winner between No. 2 West Aurora (23-5) and No. 6 Geneva (25-5) at 7 p.m. Friday.
"It's focus," said O'Mara, who scored 9 points in the first quarter and 7 in the second quarter. "It's defensive focus. We know we're going to score points, we know what we have offensively. Just focus defensively every time we come on the floor, even in practice every day."
Fourth-seeded Hinsdale Central (23-7) led by as many as 3 points in the first half after a Chase Hamilton bucket midway through the second quarter. Hamilton's 3-pointer tied the game at 27 heading to the break.
A Thomas Ives 3-pointer followed by another basket by Hamilton, who scored a team-high 12 points, pulled the Red Devils within 47-38 three minutes into the fourth quarter. Benet, however, then held Hinsdale Central scoreless for three crucial minutes while steadily rebuilding its margin to 54-38 on O'Mara's split free throws.
Pellettieri and O'Mara combined for 49 of the team's 61 points -- including 47 of the Redwings' first 54 points.
"Credit their defense, I thought they did a really good job," said Hinsdale Central coach Nick Latorre. "Hitting those two 3s out of halftime was pretty big."
With the win Benet will play for its first sectional title since 2010.
"We've defended in the last four or five years pretty well," said Benet coach Gene Heidkamp. "I think this team has gotten back to playing defense the way we've played defense in the past, and I'm so pleased with them for that because I think that's been the key in the first three games."
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