By Kevin Schmit
Class 4A Hinsdale Central supersectional
Benet (22-7) vs. Glenbard North (23-5)
When: 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Road to the sectional: Benet defended its top seed at East Aurora by winning its first sectional title since 2010 and seventh overall. The Redwings beat Lemont 81-36, Waubonsie Valley 57-33, Hinsdale Central 61-50, and Geneva 60-41. Glenbard North won as the sixth seed at Bartlett, claiming its second sectional crown and first since 2002. The Panthers beat West Chicago 51-48, Lake Park 48-44, Proviso East 77-74, and Morton 84-81.
Benet Glenbard North
Name Ht. Yr. Pos. Name Ht. Yr.
Sean O'Mara 6-9 Sr. C/F Chip Flanigan 6-5 Sr.
Liam Nelligan 6-4 Sr. F/G Kendall Holbert 6-3 Sr.
Colin Bonnett 6-3 Jr. F/G Pasquale Fiduccia 6-2 Sr.
Collin Pellettieri 5-11 Sr. G Jeremiah Fleming 6-1 Sr.
Josh Yesufu 5-10 Sr. G Justin Jackson 6-1 Sr.
Outlook: It may sound like a broken record but the biggest key remains how Glenbard North defends O'Mara and does the plan have a chance at success? Considering O'Mara played spectacularly while facing just about everything at East Aurora, it's tough to imagine slowing down the Xavier-bound center. The Panthers simply don't have one player physical enough to put on O'Mara, so expect to see him surrounded at times. That'd be good news for Benet perimeter shooters Pellettieri, Bonnett, Nelligan and Dan Roemer. When the Redwings are hot from 3-point range, they become extremely difficult to beat. The reason? Benet's defense has been stifling all season, but especially during this playoff run. If Glenbard North's defense on O'Mara is the biggest key, the second biggest is how the Panthers' explosive offense fares against the Redwings. While the Panthers averaged 80 points last week, Benet allowed an average of only 40 in four games. All five Glenbard North starters hit double-digit scoring against Proviso East, and those five players came 2 points shy of matching that feat against Morton. Flanigan, the co-player of the year in the DuPage Valley Conference, scores in multiple ways. He's one of the many Panthers players who will go strong to the hoop, something that epitomizes an extremely aggressive offense. Expect to see Nelligan, Benet's defensive stopper who drew the toughest assignments last week, to guard Flanigan. As for Glenbard North's perimeter game, there are few better from beyond the arc than Fleming, who's closing in on 100 3-pointers on the season.
Intangibles: It's tough to escape the discrepancy in playoff margin of victory by both teams. Benet's won by no fewer than 11 points while the Panthers won four postseason games by a total of 13 points. It's a sign of Benet's dominance but also a sign of Glenbard North's fierce competitiveness. This is a very good Panthers basketball team, but don't underestimate the effect of football standouts Jackson, Holbert, Brett Gasiorowski and Robert Collier. They live for moments like this, and they don't care about their underdog status. That being said, Benet's advantage in playoff experience is an interesting factor. Glenbard North's quarterfinal run in 2002 remains its only other sectional championship, and its only previous regional title in the last 22 years. Benet, meanwhile, won its fourth regional in five years and returns to the site of its last supersectional appearance in 2010.
Advancement: Winner advances to the IHSA state semifinals to face Tuesday's winner between Marian Catholic (27-2) and Edwardsville (29-2) at 8:15 p.m. Friday at Peoria's Carver Arena.
-- Kevin Schmit