Boys Basketball: Benet tops Neuqua, moves to final
BY PAUL JOHNSON For Sun-Times Media March 7, 2013 9:42PM
Benet's Sean O'Mara tries to get a shot off against Neuqua Valley's Pat Kenney during their sectional semifinal Thursday. | Brian Powers~Sun-Times Media
BOLINGBROOK CLASS 4A SECTIONAL
Regional finals — Oswego 72, Bolingbrook 59
Oswego East Regional
Regional finals — Neuqua Valley 69, Waubonsie Valley 61
Wheaton South Regional
Regional finals — West Aurora 45, Geneva 37
Regional finals — Benet 62, Naperville Central 36
Wednesday — West Aurora 61, Oswego 60
Thursday — Benet 68, Neuqua Valley 62 (2 OT)
Friday — West Aurora vs. Benet, 7:30 p.m.
WINNER ADVANCES TO:
Hinsdale Central Supersectional Tuesday vs. Schaumburg Sectional winner
Updated: April 9, 2013 11:18AM
Following the whirlwind of a 68-62 double overtime win over Neuqua Valley in the Class 4A Bolingbrook Sectional semifinals, Benet’s boys basketball team was still trying to sort it all out after the game.
“I don’t want to sound corny or philosophical, but this is what March is about,” Benet coach Gene Heidkamp said. “It was just an unbelievable game. It’s almost beyond words, which is unusual for me.”
The win puts Benet in the sectional title game Friday at 7:30 p.m. against West Aurora.
Benet (27-5) ended the game on a 12-4 run to earn the win. Two Pat McInerney free throws tied the game at 58-58 at the end of the first overtime and after Neuqua tied the game at 60-60, Sean O’Mara hit three free throws to clinch the win.
But ask anybody in the locker room how the two teams got to that point, and they’re going to have to look at the film.
“I was just telling some of the guys, I couldn’t tell you about the first overtime,” McInerney said. “All I know is Robert (Haemmerle) scored six points in a row and (Neuqua Valley senior Jabari) Sandifer hit a three and everything else is a blur. That’s one of the games you’ll remember for the rest of your life. I’m as speechless as everybody else.”
The sequence McInerney was referring to was the end of regulation. The seldom used Haemmerle scored six straight Benet points as part of an 8-2 run that turned a 45-42 deficit into a 50-47 lead in the waning seconds of regulation.
Haemmerle scored 15 points off the bench in the win.
“He got his opportunity tonight and he made the most of it,” Heidkamp said. “I think this is a game he’ll remember for the rest of his like, and he should. I couldn’t be any happier with Rob; he was a huge factor in the game.”
But Sandifer would not be denied. He went out with a masterful performance in his last appearance in a Neuqua uniform. His fade-away three-pointer from the top of the key with 8 seconds left tied the game at 50-50 and sent the game into overtime.
Benet’s stars, O’Mara and McInerney, scored consecutive baskets to open the first overtime and give Benet the lead, but Neuqua (28-3) would not go away. Sandifer converted a three-point play with 1:47 left to tie the game at 54-54, but shortly thereafter, he fouled out. He led the Wildcats with 26 points.
“We knew that he was a great player, but he was five times better than I thought he was,” McInerney said. “He hit shots that you’re not supposed to hit. When he went out, you never want to see a competitor like that go out, especially a senior. He’s an incredible player.”
Brad Mikulecky gave the Wildcats a 57-54 lead right after Sandifer departed on a three-point play. But Benet was able to salt away the game at the free throw line with Sandifer on the bench. All told, Benet hit 28-of-44 from the line, including a whopping 14-of-23 for O’Mara en route to his team-high 26 points to go with 10 rebounds.
McInerney posted a line of 18 points and 11 rebounds for Benet. Mikulecky scored 12 points and Pat Kenny scored nine for Neuqua.
The Redwings have little time to reflect on this game, rest up or prepare for Friday’s sectional final, but it’s a position they are accustomed to. They played a rugged schedule and played in three tournaments where games were stacked up against one another, so they feel they will be ready for West Aurora.
“We’re not about to make any excuses or feel for ourselves,” Heidkamp said. “They played hard to have the chance to play tomorrow night. They knew the deal coming in. I think we have a lot of character. I know we’ll come out and play as hard as we can.”