Boys Basketball: Benet excelled against stiff competition
BY BLAKE BAUMGARTNER For Sun-Times Media March 12, 2013 6:56PM
Benet's Pat McInerney (32) walks off of the court as West Aurora players and their coach Gordon Kerkman (right) break into celebration after winning Friday's sectional title game. | Jon Cunningham~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 14, 2013 6:10AM
Throughout the last four years, the word consistent best describes Benet’s boys’ basketball program.
With standout players like David Sobolewski, Frank Kaminsky, Matt Parisi, Pat Boyle, Pat McInerney and Sean O’Mara leading the way, Benet has been the measure of consistency throughout the last four years in compiling four straight 20-win seasons and an overall record of 103-18.
Falling four points shy of the program’s second sectional title in the last four years in losing 42-38 to West Aurora in the sectional title game Friday, consider all that Benet accomplished during the 2012-13 season.
Winning 27 games against a schedule that featured 33 opponents that combined to churn out an average record of 18-9, Benet reigned supreme in perhaps the best conference in the state in claiming its third outright East Suburban Catholic Conference title in the last four years while also winning its third regional title in the last four years.
Delving a little deeper into their schedule, the Redwings faced just three teams with losing records while 14 of their 33 opponents won at least 20 games and 20 of them won at least 18 games.
“For these guys to win 27 games, I think speaks volumes,” Benet coach Gene Heidkamp said after the loss to the Blackhawks. “Unfortunately, it would have been nice to have put the finishing touch on it with a sectional championship. … All in all, these guys accomplished a lot this year.”
Serving as such a vital part of the renaissance that Heidkamp has led the program on over the last five years, McInerney, the Redwings’ do-it-all senior forward, hasn’t been a stranger to big moments.
Seeing his two Big Ten-bound teammates in Sobolewski and Kaminsky have their high school careers end in similar disappointment two years ago to East Aurora, McInerney did his best to avoid a similar fate.
Scoring just nine points while trying to do all he could to help his teammates fight through an inability to get into any flow on offense, the moment was still raw for the always classy McInerney afterward.
“It hasn’t really hit me yet that that was it,” said McInerney, trying to process the end of a four-year journey that featured 10 postseason victories and a sectional title in 2010 as a freshman. “That’s pretty much it. It hasn’t hit me yet.”
While McInerney will continue his athletic career on the baseball field at Illinois after playing for Scott Lawler’s Redwing baseball team this spring, the presence of three players that contributed heavily to the Redwings’ 11-2 football season— seniors Jack Euritt and Jack Toner and junior O’Mara — brought a different dimension to the floor.
“We have multiple-sport athletes at Benet and I think in a time where that’s not as frequent as it was before, I think that’s something that’s a real credit to a lot of those kids,” Heidkamp said. “Some of those kids won conference championships in football and in basketball. Again, their legacy is gonna be what it is around our school — that they’re hard-nosed, competitive, winning-type kids. I couldn’t be any prouder of our senior class and what they’ve accomplished.”
McInerney, Euritt and Toner were charged with the responsibility to keep the program afloat and at the level that Sobolewski and Kaminsky helped bring it to by going a combined 55-5 over their last two seasons, capped by the 29-1 year in 2010-11.
Asked what he would tell the Redwings’ returnees, McInerney kept it simple.
“It’s their team now. Carry on the tradition that’s been set over the last four years and continue to win games,” he said.