Benet to remember team that started current run
Has it been 10 years already?
At halftime of Saturday's boys basketball game against Indiana power La Lumiere, Benet will honor its 2009-10 team that set a standard for excellence the Redwings enjoy to this day.
According to Benet coach Gene Heidkamp, 12 of the 14 team members will be in attendance for the 5 p.m. game in Lisle, including Frank Kaminsky, an All-America at Wisconsin now playing for the Phoenix Suns, and Dave Sobolewski, who played at Northwestern.
Five other team members competed at college. Dylan Flood played basketball at Marquette and Matt Parisi played at Hope College. Pat McInerney, a freshman on varsity that season, played baseball at Illinois. Mike Runger was a football player at Dartmouth and Pat Boyle did the same at Georgetown.
"There were no expectations for that team," Heidkamp said. "No one knew Frank was going to be as good as he was."
Kaminsky, Sobolewski, Parisi and Boyle were juniors on the 2009-10 team. The Redwings went unbeaten in the East Suburban Catholic Conference and won 16 games in a row while winning the program's first sectional title since 1983.
The Redwings played an epic supersectional game against Simeon -- Jabari Parker was a freshman -- and fell in double overtime. Behind Kaminsky and Sobolewski as seniors the next year, Benet started the season 29-0 before losing in the sectional semifinals.
That core group may not have made it to Peoria like the 2014 and 2016 teams did, but they raised expectations to a new level. At 18-7 heading into Wednesday's game against IC Catholic Prep, the Redwings are closing in on their 11th straight 20-win season.
It all started with the 2009-2010 team.
"It's not only what they accomplished on the court but also how they carried themselves off the court," Heidkamp said. "They served as a model for the teams that followed."
What looked awful on Friday looks a whole lot better now.
In last week's loss to Downers Grove North, Glenbard West's Braden Huff went down with what looked like a serious knee injury. On Monday, however, the news was as good as could be expected.
Avoiding ligament damage, an MRI showed the 6-foot-9 sophomore suffered a patella dislocation that'll cost him about a month of action due to the surgery needed to clean the damage. Huff will be evaluated in a few weeks, but it's possible his second varsity season is over.
"It's unfortunate, but it's actually good news," said Hilltoppers coach Jason Opoka. "It was a noncontact situation and you could tell it wasn't just a slip. It looked scary, but missing a month is a lot better than missing nine months with an ACL."
It's won't be easy replacing Huff's 15.1 points and 7.4 rebounds a game, but Glenbard West (14-10) is trying different combinations while leaning on lineup mainstays like senior Diallo Phillips and sophomores Paxton Warden and Caden Pierce.
Just as they have all season, the Hilltoppers will keep competing hard.
"This will give some other guys opportunities and we'll continue to battle," Opoka said.
Down to the wire:
Lisle's conference, the Illinois Central Eight, won't likely be decided until the last game is played.
Lisle (16-11, 10-2) is in first place, one game ahead of Coal City, Manteno and Streator all at 9-3.
"Four teams are right there and every game matters, and that's all you can ask for this time of year, playing meaningful games," said Lisle coach Mark LaScala.
Lisle visits Coal City on Friday and Streator on Feb. 21. Lisle's best bet is to hold them below its season average for points allowed, 48.9.
Things might have been different had 6-foot-6 senior point guard Connor Webb not missed the entire season due to injury, but as it is LaScala admits his team is "not an offensive juggernaut," averaging 49.5 points.
Fortunately, seniors such as stopper Connor Nigro, Ray Bandzoumouna, Anthony Raineri, Joe LaScala and Demetrius King Jr. -- Lisle's leader in points, rebounds, assists and steals -- take pride in defense. Juniors Cal Payne, Josh Farrell and Sean Etzkorn "have all played their roles," Mark LaScala said.
"When kids buy into their role you have a better chance for success," he said.
Getting up there:
Behind Diamon King's 20 points and 17 from Andre Reed, on Tuesday Fenton (17-10) beat Larkin 66-57.
That tied the Bison's 1989-90 team for the second-most wins in program history. With four regular-season games left Fenton has a chance to equal the program mark of 21 victories set in 1975-76.