Wheaton Academy, Illinois boys basketball team plays Benet Academy, suffers first in-state loss

Friday, February 12, 2010

Benet Academy Redwings 64 55 Wheaton Academy Warriors
Logo of the Benet Academy Redwings
Image: Benet Academy.

The Benet Academy varsity boys basketball team defeated the Wheaton Academy Warriors 64–55 in a non-conference game Tuesday night, handing the host West Chicago, Illinois, United States school its first loss to a team from Illinois and second loss overall this season.

The gym was filled to standing-room-only capacity and Warriors fans donned white t-shirts specifically made for this event, saying "BEAT BENET" and claiming "There is only one Academy." Sixteen Wheaton Academy fans wore their school uniforms during the game. Such a show of support ultimately did not lead the Warriors to victory, however, even with 6-foot, 9-inch The College of William & Mary-recruit Tim Rusthoven on their side.

Rusthoven was the focus of Benet's defensive strategy. As the Redwings point guard Dave Sobolewski said, "We knew that we wouldn't be able to take him out of the game with just a single guy. We had to take him out with our entire team, and we did a great job doing that."

Wheaton Academy had a 19–15 lead at the end of the first quarter. Benet would never trail again for the rest of the game, however, with Sobolewski scoring ten points in the second quarter to give the Redwings a 37–32 lead at halftime. Benet eventually led by a huge margin of 56–41 with four minutes and 31 seconds left in the game. The Warriors managed to narrow that lead to 58–53 with 44.2 seconds left, but the Redwings successfully made eight of 12 free throws in the final one minute and five seconds.

Wheaton Academy coach Paul Ferguson commented, "They were very physical. They killed us on offensive rebounds...Benet played a real good game, they shot ball well and rebounded well." Rusthoven had 21 points and seven rebounds, while Sobolewski also had 21 points but only five rebounds.

The Warriors, now with a record of 20–2, had won seven straight games before this one. "We knew it was a big game from their standpoint. They were 20–1 and hadn't won by less than 12 points. We came in and took care of business," said Sobolewski. Benet, with a record of 18–3, now has an eight-game winning streak as well.

The Redwings, still undefeated in conference, are now in contention for their first East Suburban Catholic Conference championship since the 1994–1995 season. Eddie Burns of the Naperville Sun attributes Benet's success to its defensive strategy, which he says is "making life miserable for the opposition". As of February 5, the Redwings had let their opponents score an average of 41 points. As forward Mike Runger said, "I think everyone on this team really values defense. Players on this team know that defense is what can get wins."