As close as Benet’s boys basketball team stayed to Proviso East, you just kept waiting for that vaunted Pirates press to produce a devastating run.
It finally hit the Redwings at the start of the fourth quarter.
Benet’s attempt to defend its Proviso West Holiday Classic title ended with Wednesday’s 49-41 quarterfinal loss to Proviso East in Hillside.
The Pirates (9-0) advance to play Auburn in Thursday’s semifinals, while Benet (11-2) falls to the fifth-place bracket to face Hillcrest at 3:45 p.m. Thursday.
The Redwings — behind a game-high 20 points and 13 rebounds from 6-foot-8 sophomore center Sean O’Mara — did a tremendous job staying close to state-ranked Proviso East for three-and-a-half quarters. That other half-quarter, however, proved to be the difference-maker.
The Pirates’ pressure defense forced a slew of turnovers near the start of the fourth quarter. Leading 24-23 after a Benet basket by O’Mara, Proviso East took off on a 13-2 run to take a 37-25 lead with 4:37 left on Paris Lee’s 3-pointer.
Benet committed 21 turnovers, including seven in the fourth quarter.
“They play a very up-tempo game, so our goal was to slow them down and make them play our style of game,” said Benet forward Bobby Wehrli, who scored 9 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. “We were doing that in the first half, but unfortunately we couldn’t hit our shots at the other end.”
The Redwings have enjoyed tremendous perimeter shooting nights this season, but Wednesday wasn’t one of them. They made only 2 of 11 3-point attempts, and both makes came in the final four minutes when the deficit lingered around double digits.
Proviso East overcame its own horrendous shooting night of 30 percent shooting, but that included a 9-of-12 effort in the decisive fourth quarter. Up to that point they were shooting 21 percent.
Keith Carter scored 8 of his team-high 18 points in the fourth quarter while Lee scored all 8 of his points. They combined for all four of the team’s 3-pointers in the frame.
Proviso East’s dismal shooting allowed Benet to overcome its struggles and take its biggest lead of 11-8 on O’Mara’s second-quarter dunk. O’Mara’s three-point play early in the third quarter put Benet ahead 16-14, but Proviso East took the lead for good with a 10-1 run.
“Our kids competed very well, but offensively we had a lot of trouble with their pressure and quickness,” said Benet coach Gene Heidkamp. “Scoring was really a struggle.”Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.