Benet, Morgan Park punch tickets to state title games

Benet, Morgan Park punch tickets to state title games
March 21, 2014, 9:15 pm
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Scott Phillips

With Benet's 38-33 win over Edwardsville on Friday night, the Redwings continued their dream season as senior center Sean O'Mara and company will move on to face Whitney Young for the Class 4A state championship on Saturday night.

While O'Mara, the 6-foot-9 Xavier commit, is the center of attraction for Benet, the senior only took six field goal attempts in the win over the Tigers, and it showed just how balanced and versatile the Redwings can be on the offensive end.

O'Mara finished with six points, nine rebounds, three assists and three blocks, but role players like Colin Bonnett and Josh Yesufu each scored 10 points and sharpshooter Colin Pellettieri added eight points. It was good enough to give the Redwings a shot at Whitney Young.

[MORE: Whitney Young advances despite Brunson's historic night]

On the defensive end, Benet (25-7) held Edwardsville (30-3) to 32 percent shooting from the field for the game.

Benet has played an incredibly difficult schedule this season as they've faced 18 opponents that won 20-plus games on the season. That schedule has payed off as Gene Heidkamp's team is prepared for virtually any situation that they face.

Whitney Young will still be the favorite to win the Class 4A state title on Saturday, but O'Mara's size down low will make it tougher on Jahlil Okafor than your typical high school team and Benet is well-coached and prepared for anything.

Morgan Park tries to make it back-to-back

Although the Class 3A state semifinals were seen by many as an undercard to the loaded Class 4A semifinal that was highlighted by Whitney Young and Stevenson, Morgan Park still had business to take care of as Nick Irvin's Mustangs are trying to win back-to-back Class 3A championships.

Morgan Park is now one game closer to achieving that dream as the Mustangs held off Orr, 52-46, on Friday afternoon. Orr (24-5) had its own state title hopes after last season's fourth-place finish in Class 3A, but the Spartans came out flat and played one of their worst games of the season on the offensive end.

Despite only shooting 28 percent from the field (12-for-42) for the game, Morgan Park won thanks in large part to its stellar free-throw shooting. The Mustangs were 26-for-33 from the free throw line for a 78 percent mark and it was good enough to get past Orr.

[WATCH: Jahlil Okafor's monstrous one-handed dunk]

Senior forward Josh Cunningham continued his strong postseason by leading Morgan Park with 15 points while sophomore point guard Charlie Moore added 12 points and senior guard Torry Johnson pitched in 10 points.

Center Marlon Jones led Orr with 15 points and fellow senior Louis Adams Jr. contributed 12 points in the loss. After knocking in the game-winning three-pointer against North Chicago after suffering a gunshot wound in his calf on March 9th, senior forward Tyquone Greer was held scoreless in 13 minutes of action.

Morgan Park (23-6) now advances to face Lincoln for the Class 3A state championship on Saturday afternoon as they dispatched Rockford Lutheran, 45-42, in the other Class 3A semifinal.

Despite a poor shooting day from senior guard Max Cook, who finished 2-for-10 from the field for six points, five assists and three steals, junior forward Gavin Block picked up the slack with 16 points to put Lincoln in the title game.

Rockford Lutheran was led by senior guard Thomas Kopelman, who scored 17 points in the loss and they'll face Orr in the Class 3A third-place game on Saturday afternoon.