By Joe Henricksen

Boat Show, Benet and March Madness

| 47 Comments | No TrackBacks

By Joe Henricksen

Whether it's two classes, four classes or any decade of your choosing, last night at East Aurora was what high school basketball in Illinois is all about. It doesn't get any better.

The great old East High gym was sold out, steamy hot, electric and deafening, with the state's best team--unbeaten and nationally ranked Benet Academy--squaring off with the state's most dominating player, East Aurora's Ryan Boatright, in sectional warfare.

There wasn't a single thing missing in this perfect example of March Madness, including two teams that played about as intense of a game as you will ever see at this level.

In the end, the Boat Show was again the talk of the night as the Tomcats rolled to a 17-point lead and fought off Benet's furious comeback attempt in a memorable upset for the ages.

This was an unbeaten Benet team that had knocked off mighty Simeon before 8,000-plus fans, cruised to an East Suburban Catholic Conference championship and went 4-0 en route to a Proviso West Holiday Tournament title behind two Big Ten players in David Sobolewski and Frank Kaminsky.

And this was an East Aurora team that has played the postseason without its second best player, Snoop Viser (aside from brief appearances in the Benet game), lacks height and lost three straight games in January to Metea Valley, Bartlett and Elgin.

But it's March. And East Aurora has Boatright.

With Boatright, it's not just about his scoring numbers that generate the headlines; if there were style points awarded to a player's production, Boatright would lead the state--and probably in tall tales told by fans leaving the gym as they call and text their buddies about Boat's exploits.

While Boatright will put points on the board more quickly than anyone else in the state, there are so many overlooked and underrated ways he impacts a game.

He gets an opposing defense completely out of sync. Team defenses put so much energy and concentration in stopping Boatright and knowing where he is on the floor, they lose focus, are constantly scrambling and out of position. Even missed East Aurora shots lead to easy put-backs due to defensive doors revolving

And with Boatright, East Aurora has the game's best closer and momentum changer. Just when you think there isn't enough left in the tank, the Boat Show offers up one last scene. He is an opposing team's run killer. It's nearly impossible for an opponent to put together a big, momentum-changing run against East Aurora, because containing Boatright for more than three trips down the floor is nearly impossible.

Although Boatright is the obvious show, East Aurora is advancing to Friday's sectional championship due to a fantastic team defensive effort against Benet. East Aurora was as disciplined defensively as they've been all season. Wendell Jeffries' club harassed Benet's perimeter threats, made them work extremely hard and, most impressively, the undersized Tomcats kept Benet big man Frank Kaminsky out of the lane and basically a non-factor for most the game.

Benet, meanwhile, is left stunned after winning 29 straight games and gaining statewide and national attention. No one will know for sure what kind of potential negative impact the notoriety, the state's No. 1 ranking and unbeaten record had on this team as it headed into March.

While the near-stunning defeat to Naperville North in the regional final could be blamed on Benet having its worst shooting performance in two years and playing its worst game of the season, Tuesday night at East Aurora was a different Benet team. The Redwings, throughout the first 16 minutes of play, didn't appear to be themselves. Benet looked tight, out of sorts and, uncharacteristically, fighting to gain the composure they always seem to possess. That led to an early double-digit deficit that ballooned to 17 points in the second half and was ultimately the difference in the game.

Yes, the run ended sooner than expected for a Benet team that put together two magical seasons. And a fan base and group of players that had dreams of playing in Peoria is left stunned--in different ways--for the second straight year. But the Hoops Report can't think of a team in the past two decades that maximized the absolute most out of its nucleus and talent, had a bigger fan following and enjoyed more fun and success than Benet. That's not what they will remember today, tomorrow or even next week or month, but it's what will be cherished 5, 10 and 20 years from now.

For another Hoops Report read on Ryan Boatright, go to The Boat Show.

No TrackBacks

TrackBack URL: http://blogs.suntimes.com/cgi-bin/mt-tb.cgi/39347

47 Comments

you talk about Ryan in such glowing terms, but yet he isn't MR.BASKETBALL or Micky D's All-American, what an injustice(especially since it's being played in his backyard)in all my years of playing and watching BBall, I have yet to see such an electric talent, it must be the city bias, regardless of the outcome of East's season, this young man has restored East's storied hoops history to it's rightful place among the basketball elite. I was going to attend the Micky D's game, but absent this young man, it's truly not a showcase of the best talent high school has to offer. The least your publication could do is step out of the box and declare this young man the true MR. BASKETBALL IN ILLINOIS. If you need co-signers just look no further than those that have had to coach or play against this young man.

I would just like to state I enjoy reading some of the misguided comments that you guys make on your talent evaluations, they must be made based on your reading the pre-season mags, because you surely haven't watched these kids in person. Not only are you way off, ex-you posed questions as to if this simeon team was among the greatest the state has produced(I'll attribute that to,too much drink). Also, Wayne Blackshear POY, are you kidding me, what position does he play(LOL), just now happens to be more physically mature than his comp, cna't dribble a lick, please. Also, where'd you get those stats of his from(last year). Come on guys do your homework, and just stop throwing stuff out there(it really makes you look bad), keep it up and I'm going to cancel my subscription. Good effort, baad production

I guess the folks at the university of IL must be blind, or they didn't know where East Aurora was located, because they let the best talent since Isiah slip through their fingers(Ryan Boatright), this guy is just what they need, someone that's a game changer, plays with passion, flair, and generates electricity like GE. Oh, and I failed to mention a true winner. Right now he's better than anyone on their roster, hands down, UCONN is extremely lucky to have him for 1 yr. Plus, Joe you won't (seemingly) have anything to write about when he's gone.
Tell those cats from Benet next time they visit our house bring their manners and be more respectful, but at least they can tell their kids they visited MECCA(EA's Gym).

U-CONN will love his game, his energy, his passion for the game, his desire to win, he doesn't listen to the naysayers, he just gets better and better, he is like the energizer-bunny, he just wears you out, and then you relinquish, and he wins, darn shame he isn't in the McDonald's game at the U-C!

I guess Tim Floyd wanting him out of 8th grade wasn't such a bad thing after all, when you see potential, you see potential, aren't great tennis stars and gymnist seen at a very young age, well what makes basketball so taboo to this type of potential player, Boatright is a man-child, he is going to the Big East, and when he comes to town to play DePaul, I am going to be in the building, he is worth the price of admission!

Joe what your thoughts on the technical foul Dave Sobolewski was given at the end of the Benet East Aurora game? Was the technical necessary or were emotions running high and a technical foul shouldn't be one of the big differences at the end of a game for a team losing as Benet was only down 3 before the technical was assessed. I could've seen either way right but I was wondering what you thought the right call should've been.

Great column- I think you're forgetting one thing about Benet however. They displayed no class at the end of the game. Down 3, a Big 10 recruit and their best players received a technical foul that virutally ended their chances. Not to mention several hard fouls at the end, the scene could have turned ugly.

As an un-biased "fan", I was happy to see them lose and was thrilled for East.

Also, How is Mr. Baskeball 2011 an argument? Give it to the Boat!

Your last paragraph pretty much sums up what I've been trying to tell myself since the loss. I'm a senior at Benet, and it's just unbelievably disappointing. We're not a huge school, so I'm pretty good friends with everyone on the team, and you're not gonna find a group of guys who deserved success more. Go through the post-game interviews (not just from last night, but all season) of Boatright and everyone at Benet, the difference should be obvious after two or three. Glenbard East is a class act, from the team to the student section; I have all the respect in the world for Simeon; East Aurora putting the end to our season, however, puts a sour taste in my mouth.

Of course any decent fan can find an excuse for any loss by their favorite team, but I truly believe the conduct of the officiating crew from that game should be looked into. I was in the front row, courtside, and it was clear at the end that the ref called the technical on sobolewski purely out of spite. There were no grounds for any call. There were a myriad of awful calls throughout the game, too many all against the same team for it to be coincidence. Those two factors together are too much for me to look past. I've heard other Benet fans complaining about the home team atmosphere for East Aurora despite their being the away team; while that was annoying, I don't think it really played a large factor in the way the game turned out, especially when weighed against the officiating.

To anyone who says the refs weren't the sole reason for the loss, I have indisputable evidence, a replay of the game, to refute your claims: http://benet.highschoolcube.com/video/4a-boys-sectional--east-aurora---benet-academy-vs-east-aurora-high-school-198888

I will say regardless of how things happened in the game with the officials or the outcome, I was disheartened with how badly Benet's team and fans reacted. I was at the game as a fan of no one but went with my husband. Been to a lot of games and could not believe the language out of the Benet adults and the reaction of the players when they realized their season was over. It was bad. And it is too bad it happened.

Joey and Joe,

Not sure how that Tech was unwarranted? Number 5 was also instigating at the end of the game and I'm relieved nothing escalated.

EA plays with a chip on their shoulder and I can understand why. These aren't Private School kids with a million resources- they definately have won me over.

Joey, I doubt any official has a bias against a team or player-especially on the #1 team in the State...I don't think the officiating caused the lose, but playing a road game in the Sectional is extremely difficult to overcome- that, and that thye have the best player in the state.

I will not watch the sham otherwise known as the McD's All American game! The Boat should be in and should win Mr. Basketball.

Joe, I'd love to konw your vote for Player of the Year?

Thanks- gotta love High School hoops.

Classless Benet tore up the locker room after their loss at East Aurora. Also, the reason Illinois didn't go after Boatright is because he isn't going to qualify so why waste your time. And as for saying Tim Floyd saw something in him, come on it's Tim Floyd a.k.a. Gomer Pyle

Bad scene after the game in that lockerroom and it was bad, bad, bad! Classless.

On the floor there should have not been at T on Sobo. Unless he said the magic word which I don't know if he did. Otherwise everyone else was fine except one individual player who we won't name names but just a sad display with the pushing, shoving, staring down opposing bench, bad sportsmanship in the line after the game. Yes. I am a Benet fan and graduate. But that is not what we are about.

Benet tore up the locker room after the game? Really? how would you know you weren't in there, and i can guarentee that you never even saw it. All you need to know about this Benet team is one thing and its all stated by Michael O'brien (yourseason.com writer) on twitter, "Why high school hoops is better than the NBA: every Benet player walked out of the locker room crying." You want to call Benet classless i have absolutely no respect for you. Benet had a passion and a chip on their shoulder. Kids on the team may have been mad, they may have cried, but they played with class the whole way through. I may sound like a pro-benet punk as many anti-benet people would say, but im not at all. I have no connection to the school but an incredible respect for the players and coaches. As a fellow ESCC competitor Benet is not a classless place like some ignorant comments are saying. When my team plays them, sure i hate em but you can't deny the passion and toughness they played the game with. Congrats to the redwings on a terrific season. In addition, the tomcats played a terrific game and best of luck to them the rest of the way, but if you are going to point the finger at benet for being "classless" remember that you got three going right back at you....

Benet may not be classless but they unfortunately had a bad night of emotion built up and blew up. It happens. They had a bad moment and didn't handle themselves as well as one would expect. Its not the end of the world.

Ask the poor water fountain how it feels

What are you guys talking about? Classless? How about the constant "push it" (real clever) chants from East Aurora's student section? One kid did get into a minor tussle at the end of the game, which is a shame, but it certainly wasn't sobolewski as one of you tried to insinuate. The East Aurora player who was involved then strutted down the court, pushing the ref the whole way (which apparently doesn't constitute a technical, unlike walking away from a ref after he told you to after a terrible call like sobo did), and his dad had to be restrained by the police from storming the court (classy). The locker room was not torn up, that is simply a lie. I waited outside the locker room to thank the team for the season, and can assure you no such thing happened. "The poor water fountain" = a fabrication.

All of this (except for the locker room of course) is on video in the link I provided earlier, so before anyone makes up more idiotic claims of a lack of sporstmanship, class, etc., watch the video.

i go to benet and i'm also a referee for a league in my town. ive taken ref classes and know which calls should be made by which official. there were 3 cases where the wrong ref made the call. but other than 2 or 3 more calls which were blatant, each call could have gone either way. the difference is that all the calls that could have gone the other way, went to east aurora. i honestly think the refs cost them the game, but thats only because it was such a close game. the refs werent so bad that they had no chance, but they definitely played a huge role in the game. also, the technical at the end was a bad call. as a ref you are taught to avoid technical fouls at all times, especially when it can decide a game. the only reason a T should be called is if a player makes dirty contact with another or drops some swears directly to the official. in this case he was saying stuff to the bench. so, the officiating did change the outcome of the game, but the only reason was bc it was close. they were still manageable and should had easily been overcome.

To all of you, talking about us benet kids not having any class, you have got to be freaking kidding me? i go to benet and I sat in the front row at the game against East Aurora, and i have no idea why everyone is so upset about us getting upset after having our hearts broken by losing. 1) Those refs of that game honestly need to go learn a thing or two about basketball in general and realize what constitutes a technical foul, especially when the game is on the line because that call was absolutely ridiculous. 2) east aurora putting on their little light show and treating it as a home game when they were really away was just a tad bit unfair. and 3) i don't know if any of you watched the game but it was actually an east aurora player who really started the almost fight at the end of the game. Yes, our team and especially some players in particular were upset about losing that game, but how could you not be. how would you feel if you started for the #1 ranked team in the state and the #6 ranked team in the country and lost in fricken sectional semis to an inferior team? I bet you would be pretty upset too. And let's talk about class... Why don't any of you spend a day at benet or spend a day with the boys from our team then spend a day at east aurora and see who has the real class. I am personally friends with a couple players on the team and I can guarantee you they are some of the classiest guys you'll meet. Every kid on our team is a great kid and they all going to go on to do great things because that's what us classy kids at benet do. I just want to really say that no one has any right to talk about our players not having class, especially when our entire team's dream for the last 2 years was to go down state and we just played a bad game and lost to one really good player. I'm proud of every one of the boys on the team and it was an unforgettable year no matter what. So, as Marty Wiora would say, GO REDWINGS

All of you are making it seem like Boatright is the best kid in Illinois. He has a lot of talent and is a great basketball player, unfortunately he is a me first player. In the end he wouldn't have cared if his team won that night or not as long as he has 30. If you want to find lack of class just watch the EA players as they pass the Benet bench talking trash. EA played a great game but will never be the team that Benet is. Boat is a great player but UConn is going to have a really tough time with that attitude.

To use words like classless, is in very poor taste, these are youngsters, and I remember when I was one, I made alot of mistakes, you learn from your mistakes and you move on!
That comment about Ryan not going to qualify is unwarranted and in very poor taste, you shouldn't be privy to this type of information in the first place!

irishduke422 Benet did tear up the locker room, they busted a water fountain and broke mirrors. And Sobolewksi did use the magic word he dropped an F bomb. In the heat of the moment they didn't handle the pressure. They are 18 year old kids who I am sure will go on and do great things but hopefully they learn from this.

OK, I am just a casual fan who loves basketball and was at East Aurora-Benet game. And I sit here and read all this. I don't want to hear from Benet fans how they got shafted and disrespect East Aurora. And I don't want to hear East Aurora fans blast away how Benet acted. This is he said, she said. Everyone who is stating the officiating was bad, yes it was. But it was very bad both ways. The technical was the worst call by far of the game. But there are countless calls that were missed and made up along the way that went against East Aurora and against Benet. I mean I looked up early in the fourth quarter and Benet had one team foul in the second half? Huh? When they are scrapping and clawing there way back into the game and trying to guard Boatright man to man? And one team foul the entire third quarter? Just an example. I just don't want to hear biased fans commmenting either way.

You're all making good points and I think it's too much to call Benet classless. One of their players definately took the intensity too far (not Sobo) and it almost escalated. EA doesn't need a Family member on the court charging around either.

I'm looking forward to tonight, and I hope to see a better display of sportsmanship while witnessing the same level of intensity.

Tuesday night's atmosphere was unreal.

Look, there were things that happened during that game, particularly at the end of the game and even in the handshake line, that don't normally happen. It was a case of poor sportsmanship. Emotions were high, the stakes were high, and it wasn't handled particularly well. I am not making excuses but it is what it is and it was too bad because I think it was a misrepresentation of what probably are a good group of kids.

Thomas J hit it on the head for the most part. But anyone to come on here and say they were at that East-Benet game and nothing out of the ordinary happened in respect to the Benet fans, players and even chasing down the ref after the game, has their head in the sand.

Ok, classless was too strong of a term. I apologize for my earlier comment. In the moment of defeat some of the Benet players and fans did not handle the loss well. At the end of the day they are 18 or younger and some of kids behaved as kids behave.

Because I knew that game was going to be much better than my beloved SE storm vs Auburn, I went to the EA game. As fans of the game we expect fairness to ensue and that every call will work out the way it is supposed to the way we see it in the stands but we need to accept the obvious. High School athletics is run by the IHSA, the IHSA is into making money, just like any other organization otherwise they wouldn't take the admission fees that regional and sectional games create. What game would draw more money and fans downstate, the electricity that Boatright brings or the methodical and fundamental play that Benet has? Benet is the best "team" I've seen in years but the last two games they played showed how high school kids, no matter how big or talented, can fall to pressure. I give those Benet kids a lot of credit. They are the first group to go through that school in a long time that received that much hype. Boat has been hyped since he was an 8th grader so he you know he is used to it. I've seen Boat play many times and yes he and some of his mates can be a cocky and arragant bunch but everybody knows that is what is coming to the table when you play East Aurora. It isn't personal, it's just playground basketball, something that Boat happens to be very good at. Benet should have been more prepared for what was coming. My fault lies on the Benet game plan and the fact that he thought he could man boatright from half court. Benet thought what they did the year before would work this year but they forgot one thing, Boat isn't the same player and this isn't the same team.
As for the locker room, as a former player and official I've been in there, it isn't exactly the most up to date and renovated facility.

As for the officials, yes that technical should never have been called at that juncture just like the foul at the end of Bartlet/South Elgin with 1.5 left shouldn't have been called just like dozens of other down the stretch calls shouldn't have been made but it happens because referring is perception and the perception on the court is far more intense and immediate than the one from the stands.

I watched this game on highscoolcube as an unbiased fan and I have to say I agree with the Benet fans here.
Those refs had no idea how to call a game and seemed to give every call to EA. I've never in my life seen something where a team makes a 3 and gets the ball out of bounds after the shot. Whatever happened to "and 1"??
And don't get me started with the EA "parents" in the crowd. Some of those people should really be ashamed.
I don't blame the Benet players for their frustration one bit.

Oh yeah, and EA is clearly the better team? Obviously they didn't think so when they held the ball with the lead for the last shot of the first half with 2 1/2 minutes left! Can we please get a shootclock in hs?

As I read these comments, I was surprised that no one has questioned Coach Heidkamp's actions. There was no reason for his player to remain in the game after the free throw were shot. The game was over at that point. He should have sat the young man down to defuse the situation. Also, he should not have tolerated the young man's lack of respect towards his opponents in the post game handshakes. Raw emotions don't give you a pass for boorish behavior. Benet enjoyed a great deal of success over the past two years, it's too bad they couldn't handle the adversity when it came their way.

Benet had a great run in the last two years, but with all due respect East just simply outplayed them. The Tomcats defensive intensity was the best they have displayed all year! If they continue to play like that and with Snoop Visor getting healthier and back in the groove look out! Benet came in anticipating a W and honestly haven't played against a backcourt like EA has! Yes at the end Benet lost their composure and the better than thou attitude stuck out! It proved to be a humbling experience for their arrogant fans!

Oh my goodness these posts are driving me crazy. Yes the three-point shot and foul was a bad call against Benet but not for the reasons one fan stated here. (Does he know the rules?). And the tech was bad. But there were so many other things that went on that were bad. And again both ways. The reaching out and grabbing the jersey on fastbreak and no intentional foul? The Sobo running over the defender at the end of the game? The constant hand-checking and grabbing of Boatright just to have a chance in guarding him but with no calls? The entire game was badly officiated. Move on.

Great comments from JLK on here regarding the coaching in this one. Benet's coach is obviously a great coach. But he must be stubborn in his man to man obsession. What team in the state of Illinois plays Boatright straight up man to man the entire game? I will guarantee Glenbard East doesn't do that tonight in the sectional final. You can't go 32 minutes of man against Boatright and not expect him to either tear you up or leave people wide open and all alone. And why is a 7-footer who is a Big Ten player floating around 15-17 feet from the basket against a team with zero post presence.

So Benet cries to the IHSA about the player intros? What a joke. Lose and behave like this? Do people realize what sore losers they sound like on here? They didn't play well. They didn't play smart. Their two Big Ten players had like 6 points in the second half. But its the officials, its the player announcements before the game, blah, blah, blah. It's no wonder why so many people grew tired of the Benet fans arrogance.

I heard East Aurora won't be doing the player intros for the sectional final because Benet had to immediately let the IHSA know how unjust and unfair it was. Wow. Just so much sour grapes in this one. Maybe it was unfair. Maybe it was overboard for a sectional game. I don't know. But its really worth calling the IHSA about? What was kind of funny is I was sitting right behind many of the Glenbard East players during the Benet-East Aurora game. They were commenting how much they loved the player intros, were really into it and talked about how cool it would be if they did it Friday night if they won their game.

I just read all of these comments and of course somethings happened at the end of the game that were flat out stupid. yet, what do you expect when you have their players being threatened on the court by the players on EA and the parents even that the 18 year olds are "going to get jumped after the game" or how someone will "bust a cap in them after the game"?

To all of you, Heidkamp is great coach and truly a great person. I'm not sure what you want him to do about the defense, double team boat? that obviously couldn't work cause EA had some good outside shooters that were hitting threes and they would have easily got open, and I honestly believe any type of zone couldn't have worked cause EA has too good of an outside presence and they would of just hit 3's like crazy. and definitely don't blame heidkamp for not pulling out his senior at the end of the game when it was the last game he would ever play. At the end of the day, benet played a bad game and boatright took advantage of that, but Benet is still without a doubt the better team.

You would have to be delusional to think East Aurora will attract more fans than Benet to Peoria. I guarantee (and I'm sure Joe and anyone else who has seen Benet play more than once this year will back me up) that Benet was bringing at LEAST 1000 more fans than the second biggest fan base in the state.

I forgot to mention I had the "pleasure" of sitting by these East Aurora fans. Wow, is all I can really say about some of the things coming out of the mouths of their parents and supporters.
I guess that's what you get from people who are creative enough to nickname their little guy "Snoop".

Maybe EA and Simeon will meet and we'll be able to see a shootout on and off the court!
I can only assume that after what I heard at this game.

Thugs...

I was personally in the locker room, and no such water fountain or mirror was broken, the only thing that broke was the stall door, which was a piece of crap anyways and bound to break within the next 3 uses of it. So ill break any theory of people saying they are classless kid because they are quite possibly the classiest team around. Sorry u EA fans not only have to ruin their season by hiding behind the refs, u have to blame them for how crappy the locker room is, and blame them for what ur students probably did to the locker room.

I was at that game in the EA parent section right behind the EA bench as a Benet fan. If you heard some of the things I was called by grown men and women as I cheered on my redwings you would be ashamed for anyone that goes or went to EA. I’m only 16 and these people were cussing me out of cheering on my team. I got these tickets from my dad’s friend who is a policeman in aurora that works games at EA. He said its sad all of the unsportsmanlike like things that happen at the games and how 10 policeman are required to work at one basketball game. I believe this game should have been played at a neutral site; the results would have been much different. Also why were we playing such a good team in the sectional semi-final, I would have rather seen this game down state and would be ok with the results. The officials were bad as always and it went both ways so I’m indifferent on that subject.

For anyone that disagrees with me you have your opinion and I have mine but I advise you to watch the movie coach carter, you'll learn a lot.

If you are currently watching the East Aurora Glenbard East game and you still think Boatright is an All american and Mr. Basketball think again. He is Mr. Athlete but an All American and Mr. Basketball requires a humility and sportsmanship that by watching him you know he doesn't have. I get wanting to win but screaming at your coach is not the way to do it.

I was personally in the benet locker room after the game. The bathroom stall door came off the hinges before the game when somebody opened it (obviously it wasn't in good condition to start with) and nothing else was done. Definitely no broken mirrors. Don't speak unless you know what you're talking about. And Benet would mean more fans in peoria than in the history of IHSA guaranteed. They set the ALL TIME attendance record at UIC Pavilion

So the East Aurora players were suddenly angels and miraculously better sports against Glenbard East on Friday night? And in defeat, getting blown out by 18? No issues between the teams, no sore losers. It was nice to see.

Tim Alter that's because they knew they were supposed to get beat by Glenbard East just like they shouldve gotten beaten by us

Leave a comment

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Joe Henricksen published on March 9, 2011 10:56 AM.

Top 10 sectional semi storylines was the previous entry in this blog.

Sectional title games up for grabs is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.