Kaminsky, Sobolewski together again
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After eight years the numbers become staggering.
They sneak up on you and, the next thing you know, a pair of high school seniors start to feel much older.
"How many games have we played together?" asked Benet senior point guard Dave Sobolewski. "I don't think I've ever tried to figure that out."
But he does. Sobolewski counts aloud the number of basketball games he's played with Frank Kaminsky, the Redwings' senior center.
First there was four years as teammates at St. Joan of Arc School in Lisle. Add in two years of AAU ball with the Illinois Wolves and a three-year span at Benet, and a virtual lifetime of hoops emerges.
The final tally, albeit an estimate, is complete: 350 games together.
"We've known each other forever," said Kaminsky, Benet's 7-foot post presence. "Over time you just get a feel for each other on the court."
That, in essence, was the magic of Benet boys basketball this season.
If you were to start a high school team, you'd begin with a standout point guard and a dominant big man. For the last two years, the Redwings had both in Sobolewski and Kaminsky.
Together they forged an indescribable senior season that ended in heartbreak with Tuesday's sectional semifinal loss to East Aurora.
Apart? At this point it's tough to imagine.
"To be able to beat the elite teams you have to have both of them," said Benet coach Gene Heidkamp. "We'd be a good team without one of them, but we wouldn't be a great team."
In their own inseparable ways Kaminsky and Sobolewski led Benet to an amazing two-year run. For their combined effort, they are the Daily Herald DuPage County 2010-11 All-Area basketball co-captains.
"How many teams are lucky enough to have one Division I player?" asked Naperville North coach Jeff Powers. "They've got two Division I players, and the perfect combination: a point guard and a big guy who can go big and step out."
Benet's 29-1 season had its roots in last year's run to the Class 4A sectional championship. With Sobolewski, Kaminsky and third-leading scorer Matt Parisi all coming back for their senior season, the expectations were extreme.
Kaminsky and Sobolewski took care of future business in the off-season by accepting college scholarships. Interestingly, after eight years as teammates they'll be opponents in the Big Ten.
Sobolewski's headed to Northwestern, and Kaminsky is bound for Wisconsin.
"I definitely didn't think it'd end up this way," Sobolewski said. "It's weird to think we'll be playing against each other."
Despite their lofty individual reputations, team success always came first with the duo. Proof glared in their less-than-gaudy statistics this season.
In two regional playoff games last season both players showed they could dominate. After Kaminsky scored 39 points in the semifinal to beat Glenbard North, Sobolewski scored 41 to beat Downers Grove South in the final.
That type of individual domination wasn't necessary this season. Kaminsky, controlling the post on offense and defense, averaged 14.2 points and 8.7 rebounds. Sobolewski, a ballhandling wizard, tremendous shot creator and passer, averaged 14 points and 5.7 assists.
Individually they possess skills that Heidkamp calls "ridiculously valuable." As a tandem their talent is overwhelming.
Opponents tried and failed with gimmick defenses last season. They didn't even bother this year.
"In high school it's a mix that few teams have," said Glenbard East coach Scott Miller. "They're both unselfish kids, and you can see that in their stats. They're great players, but they're great within the framework of the team's success."
Each player took turns leading Benet's charge to 29 straight wins. Sobolewski was MVP at the prestigious Proviso West Holiday Tournament and the Plainfield North tourney. Kaminsky carried the Redwings to a second straight unbeaten season in the East Suburban Catholic Conference and was named the league's player of the year.
Kaminsky showed his immense value during a four-game post-holiday stretch when Sobolewski missed four games with a back injury. In addition to his normal post duties, Kaminsky managed a good chunk of the ballhandling.
"Our group is so used to playing together that when you take someone out it just feels different," Kaminsky said. "Especially Dave because he's the point guard and he sets up everything in the offense."
Benet nearly had to play without Kaminsky when he rolled an ankle in the Proviso West semifinals. Not only did he gut out the rest of that game, he came back the next night to help lead the Redwings to the tournament title.
"It would have been just as tough or even tougher to play without Frank," Sobolewski said. "Having him inside is an enormous help for our team."
When they were growing up at St. Joan of Arc in Lisle, Sobolewski was always a bit ahead of Kaminsky in basketball talent. That continued in high school when Sobolewski was promoted to varsity as a sophomore while Kaminsky stayed on the sophomore level for a second season.
Sobolewski consistently performed to earn three all-ESCC honors as Kaminsky gradually figured out his rapidly growing body. Six-foot-three as a freshman, the young man with the size 18 feet added 3-4 inches of height each year at Benet.
By the end of his junior year, Kaminsky was a Division I-caliber player.
"I've always dreamed of being a big-time basketball player," he said. "I don't think it was confidence that I needed. It was the focus and readiness in my mind that I could do it every night."
With both players at the top of the game, the Redwings took off.
"That regional last year showed that you can't try to stop one of us," Sobolewski said. "Maybe I was a little bit ahead of him early on, but in my opinion Frank's the most improved player in the state over the last two years."
After eight years of playing together, he'd know.
Both admit it'll be strange to no longer be teammates, but both are prepared to move on to the Big Ten.
"It sounds weird, but it's become normal for me to have a 7-foot center out there with me," Sobolewski said. "It's going to be so different when we're at college facing each other. I don't even want to think about it right now."
Unfortunately, it's now a reality.
With Tuesday's loss to East Aurora, the end of an era is at hand. Together they helped take Benet to another level: a 55-5 two-year record with a pair of ESCC and regional titles in addition to a sectional crown.
They'll be sorely missed, but in their own unique ways.
"It's a combination of ability and character and the type of kids they are," Heidkamp said, "but I wouldn't take any two players over them."
All-area captain honor roll:
1988-89 — Tyrone Parks, West Chicago
1989-90 — Wade Hardtke, Glenbard East
1990-91 — Roger Suchy, Glenbard North
1991-92 — Lance Broderson, Waubonsie Valley
1992-93 — Anthony Parker, Naperville Central
1993-94 — Adam Shafer, Downers Grove South
1994-95 — Eric Norberg, Downers Grove South
1995-96 — Cory Little, Addison Trail
1996-97 — Brian Wardle, Hinsdale Central
1997-98 — Henry Domercant, Naperville North
1998-99 — Tim Szatko, Naperville Central
1999-2000 — Drew Carstens, Downers Grove North
2000-01 — Kyle Kleckner, Downers Grove North
2001-02 — Derrick Clanton, Waubonsie Valley
2002-03 — Bobby Catchings, Neuqua Valley
2003-04 — Andy Mack, Lake Park
2004-05 — Bryan Mullins, Downers Grove South
2005-06 — Mike Capocci, Glenbard East
2006-07 — Mike Capocci, Glenbard East
2007-08 — John Shurna, Glenbard West
2008-09 — Drew Crawford, Naperville Central
2009-10 — Dwayne Evans, Neuqua Valley
2010-11 — Frank Kaminsky and Dave Sobolewski, Benet
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