Benet is a known quantity. “We’re not going to surprise anybody with our methods,” star 6-9 center Sean O’Mara said.
The difficulty is denying what they do so well.
Coming off tough losses against ranked teams Marian Catholic and Fenwick, the Redwings returned to a Proviso West Holiday tournament the program has turned into a showcase the last three years.
Despite playing just 19 minutes, Xavier-recruit O’Mara was both efficient and spectacular by posting an impressive double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds as the Redwings cruised past Foreman 69-52 in first round play Thursday in Hillside.
The final score proved misleading as the Redwings (7-2) led by as many as 28 points as nine different players scored.
Benet advances to play Providence St.-Mel in Friday’s second-round play.
O’Mara also registered three blocked shots, all in the first half when he scored 15 points and grabbed six rebounds. Benet took control with a 16-2 burst that started midway through the first quarter and extended into the second quarter.
O’Mara punctuated the run with a monster dunk in traffic off a fast break that he was also fouled for the commanding 23-6 advantage. “It’s a credit to my teammates,” he said. “If you’ve watched my game, it’s based on catch and shoot and my guards did a great job of getting me the ball in positions where I could score.”
Benet shot only 39 percent (22-of-57) but the Redwings were relenteless on the glass, pounding the Hornets with 18 offensive rebounds in gathering a stunning 22 rebound differential (52-30) over the Hornets.
Benet graduated some key personnel from last year’s sectional finalist. This year’s edition has demonstrated greater versatility and scoring prowess. Senior guard Collin Pellettieri scored 15 points and added four steals and again proved himself a legitimate second option.
Forward Colin Bonnett scored five straight points during a second quarter flurry and junior Liam Nelligan continued to impress with nine points and 10 rebounds. Benet led 38-19 at the break.
“Nothing against last year’s team, they were great guys, but this year’s team has much greater potential,” O’Mara said.
“Last year’s team was tough and physical, we had a bunch of tough football players, but this year’s team is definitely more basketball oriented,” Pellettieri said. “Nobody except for Sean played football and it’s definitely helped, having everybody at open gym during the preason and now we have better chemistry and everybody knows our sets.”
With O’Mara’s defensive presence, Foreman had to shoot perimeter shots and made just 32 percent (19-for-60). Forward Chris Bolden scored 16 points for the Hornets (6-3) and swingman Terrance Frazier added 11 points.
Star shooting guard Emaei Hoard was harassed into 1-of-7 shooting on three-point attempts in finishing with five points.