With its toughest stretch of schedule on the doorstep, Benet's boys basketball team could have been caught looking ahead Friday night.
From the opening tip, though, it became clear that the Redwings came to play.
Supreme focus allowed the Redwings to stay unbeaten in the East Suburban Catholic Conference with a 64-42 win over Marist in Lisle.
Key ESCC games loom against St. Viator, St. Patrick, St. Joseph and others, but Benet (15-3, 7-0) is showing how difficult it'll be to wedge the conference co-leader out of the top spot.
"This was a big win for us if we wanted to stay in the race for the conference," said Redwings junior guard Dave Sobolewski, whose team stayed in a first-place tie with St. Joseph after the Chargers' overtime win over St. Patrick on Friday. "Our coaches were harping on that all week, saying we had to stay focused and not look past Marist because their record doesn't show how good they are."
Benet was on the verge of breaking open the game throughout the first half. Sobolewski scored 9 of his season-high 28 points in the second quarter - including 9 straight points for the Redwings - as they built a 26-15 halftime advantage.
Sobolewski added 10 more points in the third quarter, knocking down a pair of 3-pointers early in the period to boost the lead to 34-18.
Before long everyone got into the act for Benet. Matt Parisi and Kevin Doyle each hit third-quarter 3-pointers as the margin grew to 17 points.
An 11-3 run to start the fourth quarter sent the starters to the bench for the night. All five of Marist's fourth-quarter baskets were from 3-point range to keep the RedHawks (7-12, 1-6) as close as they were.
"The kids came out focused and got off to a great start," said Benet coach Gene Heidkamp. "I thought that made a big difference in the game. They're certainly capable of beating us, and I thought our kids were up to the challenge."
No Benet player other than Sobolewski reached double-figure scoring, but eight others pitched in at least 2 points. Parisi and Pat Boyle each scored 7 points while Dylan Flood and Frank Kaminsky had 6 points apiece. Nick Valla scored 12 points for Marist.
"Tonight with the scoring, it just came to me," Sobolewski said. "But I don't care how many points I score as long as we win."