Benet, WW South, York advance to tournament semifinals
It might be a grind, but at least it's a familiar grind for Benet.
The Redwings won twice on Saturday to advance -- again -- to the Wheaton Warrenville South MLK boys basketball tournament semifinals. It'll take two more victories on Monday for them to defend the title they won last year.
After a 65-50 morning win over Plainfield South, Benet (16-3) grinded out a 47-41 victory over Lake Park in a game featuring 10 lead changes and four ties in the first half.
Benet's stingy defense forced two scoring droughts in the second half that turned the game in its favor. The lead never grew to double digits, but it was enough to advance.
"In the first half we'd grind out possessions on defense but then we'd have a couple breakdowns and they'd score," said Redwings senior Will Engels, who scored 8 of his 12 points in the fourth quarter and had a double-double with 10 rebounds. "In the second half we did a better job finishing out stops. We won it last year, and obviously we want to win it again on Monday."
Benet looked at home in its fifth year at the tournament as Colin Crothers scored 25 points and Kendrick Tchoua had 15 against Plainfield South. The second game was much tougher against the Lancers (13-7), who beat Warren 41-38 in their opener behind 14 points from Trevor Montiel and 10 apiece from Joey Czaja and Luke Sgarbossa.
The Lancers endured a six-minute drought in the third quarter against Benet and a three-minute scoreless span at the end of the fourth. Sgarbossa, who tallied 19 points, scored to tie the game at 38-38 with 3:16 left but the Redwings seized control with the next 7 points.
"I thought that was one of our better-played games against a really good opponent," said Lake Park coach Billy Pitcher. "Our defense kept us in the game but we had to fix some things on offense. We just had a couple dry spells that hurt us."
Benet, which received 16 points from Crothers in the Lake Park win, faces Rockford East in the semifinals at 12:30 p.m. Monday.
"Both teams played really good defense," said Benet coach Gene Heidkamp. "Every possession was a grind, and that's why it was so back and forth. It was tough for us to get good shots at the basket but I thought we played pretty solid defense, especially in the last couple minutes of the game."
WW South (14-5) plays York (18-2) at 11 a.m. Monday in the first semifinal. Joe Ives scored 19 points in the Tigers' 51-30 win over U-High, and he and Jeff Kratz scored 14 points in a 61-36 second-round win over Lake Forest Academy.
York beat Schaumburg Christian 62-24 and Plainfield East 47-39. Erik Cohn led the way with 17 points against Schaumburg Christian while Sam Walsh had 14 against the Bengals.
Downers Grove North (13-7) split its two games, losing 61-60 in overtime to Lake Forest Academy and beating U-High 58-34. The Trojans play Morton at 8 a.m. Monday in the consolation semifinals.
St. Francis (7-14) also lost its opener, 67-37 to Rockford East but bounced back to beat Huntley 67-55. The Spartans face Warren at 9:30 a.m. Monday in the second consolation semifinal.