Defense wins championships -- including this one -- but how about that offense?
Benet's boys basketball team put it all together Friday night, especially in the second half of a 67-40 victory over Willowbrook in the Class 4A Glenbard East sectional title game in Lombard.
The win gives the program its ninth sectional title, its fourth since 2010 and its third in the last five years. Benet (27-4), the sectional's second seed, advances to Tuesday's NIU supersectional in DeKalb to take on Larkin, a winner over Jefferson in the Jacobs sectional final.
For the 14th time this season the Redwings held a team to 40 or fewer points, and they did so against a Willowbrook (26-6) team with one of the sectional's most potent offenses.
The Redwings' offense, however, actually set the tone. Jacob Petrovic knocked down five 3-pointers on his way to 15 points, and Will Engels, David Buh and Colin Crothers also hit double-figure scoring on one of the best shooting nights of the season for Benet.
"I thought our offense was really good today," Petrovic said. "We kept it up on our defense, too. When we keep on defending and getting boards, our offense just moves and we hit shots."
Leading 30-26 at halftime, Benet pushed the margin to double digits with a 9-2 run highlighted by 7 points from Engels, who finished with a team-high 17 points. Willowbrook sliced the deficit to 8 points in the third quarter, but Benet used a 10-1 run at the start of the fourth quarter to put the outcome to rest.
"I'm extremely proud of our guys," said Willowbrook senior Ethan Schuemer, who scored 15 points in his final high school game. "You want to come out and give it your all, and we did just that. But they just outplayed us in the end."
Benet built a 21-9 lead early in the second quarter, but the Warriors stormed back behind Schuemer's 7 points. Twice they pulled within 2 points before Benet took the 4-point halftime lead.
"Regardless of the score, we kept fighting," said Willowbrook coach Chris Perkins, whose program sought its first sectional title with four senior third-year varsity players. "The legacy they're leaving behind and the foundation they're setting for the classes to follow, from a coach's perspective I couldn't be prouder of our seniors."
After shooting 57 percent from the field in the first three quarters, the Redwings hit 8 of their first 10 fourth-quarter shots before putting in their bench players.
Benet's defense allowed only 14 second-half points, including a 4-point fourth quarter.
"When we play defense like we can, we're one of the better defensive teams in the state," said Benet guard Ben Cooney. "Our defense leads into our offense. It just sets the tone of the game. When we play like that, it's hard to play against."
Crothers finished with 13 points while Buh added 12. Scott Tumilty added 6 points for Willowbrook with a pair of 3-pointers during the second-quarter rally.
"Overall it was a really good performance," said Benet coach Gene Heidkamp. "To play that well on both sides of the floor against a team like Willowbrook, I think it speaks so well of our kids and the type of team they've become."
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