By Kevin Schmit
Class 4A NIU supersectional
Benet (27-4) vs. Larkin (24-8)
When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Convocation Center in DeKalb.
Road to the supersectional: Second-seeded Benet beat No. 15 Downers Grove South 59-47, No. 7 Naperville Central 62-49, No. 12 Bartlett 47-41 and No. 5 Willowbrook 67-40. Larkin, top-seeded in a subsectional, beat No. 7 Elgin 50-43, No. 4 St. Charles North 46-43, No. 5 Auburn 60-54 and No. 1 Jefferson 60-55.
Playoff history: Benet won its ninth sectional title, fourth since 2010 and third in five years. The Redwings now seek their third supersectional win in five years. They finished third in Class AA in 1979 and were the Class 4A runner-up in 2014 and 2016. Larkin's fifth sectional title was the program's first since 2005. The Royals are vying for their first state semifinal appearance.
Name Ht. Yr. Pos. Name Ht. Yr.
Ben Cooney 5-10 Sr. G Kindrel Morris 5-7 Sr.
Jacob Petrovic 6-2 Sr. G Pierre Black 6-0 Jr.
David Buh 6-4 Sr. F Anthony Lynch 6-3 Sr.
Will Engels 6-4 Jr. F Isaiah Talley 6-4 Sr.
Colin Crothers 6-8 So. C Jalen Shaw 6-10 Sr.
Outlook: On the heels of its 18th straight win, Benet might be the hottest team in the state. The Redwings -- who have held 14 opponents to 40 points or fewer -- clearly are winning with defense, but two matchups in particular will be difficult with a state semifinal berth on the line. Buh is a standout wing defender and he'll likely be up against Lynch, the Upstate Eight Conference River Division player of the year who scored 52 points in two sectional victories. Crothers, who has guarded 6-8 Ben Wolf of Naperville Central and 6-6 Ethan Schuemer of Willowbrook so far in the playoffs, draws his toughest matchup yet with Shaw. Shaw averages 16 points and 11 rebounds but scored 36 points and grabbed 27 rebounds in the sectional. If Crothers gets into foul trouble, it'll be on 6-7 Noah Ferrell and 6-5 Shane O'Mara to defend the post. Benet enjoyed one of its best offensive games of the season in Friday's win over Willowbrook, and the effort was sparked by Petrovic on the perimeter. He knocked down five 3-pointers in an effort highlighted by lightning-quick ball movement against pressure and trapping. Four players hit double-figure scoring with three -- Petrovic, Buh, who averages 13 points, and Engels -- all capable from 3-point range. The Redwings get an added outside boost from Jake Ronneberg off the bench. If the shots aren't falling, though, it'll be on Crothers and Ferrell to score in the post. Crothers scored 13 points in the sectional final and had 9 in the semifinals.
Advancement: The winner advances to Friday's Class 4A semifinals at Carver Arena in Peoria to face Tuesday's winner of the Illinois State University supersectional between Belleville West (29-2) and West Aurora (25-4).
-- Kevin Schmit