BATAVIA - Neuqua Valley coach Todd Sutton, assistant Bob Vozza and several of their players scouted Benet's 55-54 victory over Naperville North on Monday night in Batavia. The group will return Tuesday to face the No. 17 Redwings (12-14). Michael O'Brien says 27-1 Neuqua, the No. 1 seed in the Oswego East Sectional, has a clear path to Peoria and uncovers this nugget: Class 4A has no defending champion, while 3A has three - Richards, North Lawndale and Marshall.
--Neuqua's opponent was still unknown until Matt Hasse's long 3-pointer missed at the buzzer. After Benet's Joe Meyerhoff hit one of two free throws with 3.8 seconds remaining, No. 16 North (12-15) moved the ball to halfcourt and called timeout.
The Huskies ran a triple screen along the baseline designed for senior guard Danny Grimley (10 points), with Hasse (8 points, 10 rebounds) picking and then popping back toward the foul line. The 6-foot-9-inch center wound up farther away from the basket.
"(Hasse) certainly can make that shot but (Benet) didn't bite too much on the switch and he was well covered, so give them credit for a good defensive set right there," North coach Mark Lindo said afterward. "It's hard to be incredibly creative with 1.7 seconds to go, (but) we knew they'd take away our first option. They did, and they took away the second option, but we feel real good about Matt Hasse, (who's) a very high-percentage shooter from that spot on the floor."
--Hasse is one of several Huskies expected back next season, and with Joe McNicholas (6-6), James O'Shaughnessy (6-5) and Matt LaCosse (6-5) they should have a decent core. Monday's loss snapped a five-game winning streak. "There's an awful lot of talented young men with (a) chance to dream big," Lindo said.
--North enjoyed a significant size advantage and a 30-21 rebounding margin but couldn't convert that into enough points. "We just got them with our perimeter quickness and our guard play," said Meyerhoff, the 6-8 Benet center.
--In the past six days, Benet has won two rematch games. First-year coach Gene Heidkamp said it revealed something about its players, but it also has to be a reflection on the Benet staff.
"Our last two games were against teams (Notre Dame and North) that beat us convincingly the first time we played them, and (we) come back and win both games, so I think that says something about our kids, especially at the end of the year, when a lot of teams are ready to go home," Heidkamp said. "To be honest, we had to close the game out. We felt we had a seven-to-nine-point lead pretty much throughout - midway through the third quarter through the last minute of the game. To (North's) credit, they never quit. They made some big plays and we let them back in by not making free throws. ... I'm happy with it."
Benet 55, Naperville North 54
Benet 13 7 22 13 - 55
NN 6 14 10 24 - 54
Sobolewski 3 5-8 11, Morris 1 0-0 2, Wagner 6 0-3 16, Meyerhoff 4 6-9, Hayes 3 2-2 10, Maag 1 0-0 2. Totals: 18 13-22 55.
Naperville North (12-15)
Beck 1 0-0 3, Grimley 4 1-1 10, Hasse 4 0-0 8, O'Shaughnessy 2 2-2 6, McNicholas 7 1-1 17, LaCosse 2 2-5 6, Bushman 2 0-1 4. Totals: 22 6-10 54.
3-pointers: Benet 6 - Wagner 4, Hayes 2. Naperville North 4 - McNicholas 2, Beck Grimley.
Rebounds: Benet 21 (Meyerhoff 6), Naperville North 30 (Hasse 10).
Turnovers: Benet 15, Naperville North 16.