Historic gym the site of Benet Academy, Illinois victory over Oswego

Monday, January 18, 2010

Benet Academy Redwings 40 34 Oswego Panthers

The Benet Academy Redwings boys basketball team defeated the Oswego High School Panthers 40–34 Saturday night at Benet’s historic Alumni Gym. 

Located at Lisle, Illinois, United States, the gymnasium is home to Benet’s winning streak of 102 consecutive home games. The statewide record lasted from November 26, 1975 until January 24, 1987, when Naperville North High School defeated the Redwings 47–46. Benet also achieved 96 consecutive victories in the Western Suburban Catholic Conference at that time. 

The school continued to use the facility, colloquially referred to as the “Old Gym” or the “Small Gym”, until the end of the 1994 season, when a newer athletic center was built on campus. It wasn’t until the late 1990’s when then-coach Marty Gaughan decided to play one game per year in the Alumni Gym to remind the school of its history. “There is just an electricity, and you feel it when you are in there,” said Gaughan, who coached the team from the 1989–1990 season to the 2007–2008 season. 

This tradition continued until the 2006–2007 season, when the Redwings played against long-time rival St. Francis High School. Renovations prevented the gym from being used for athletic events over the past two seasons. This game was Benet coach Gene Heidkamp’s first opportunity to coach in the older gym. “So much history and winning has taken place there, which makes it so special. It is something the entire school community is excited about,” said Heidkamp. 

Saturday’s game was played at the Alumni Gym at the request of Oswego assistant coach Jim Bagley. He wanted his son, senior forward Chris Bagley, to experience the same atmosphere he had as he played for Benet in the 1978–1979 season. Greg Kwiatkowski was also Jim Bagley’s teammate in Benet, and his son, Joe Kwiatkowski, was in the Panthers’ starting lineup as well. “Two of us who played at Benet together and now our son’s play on [Oswego] together and for them to have a chance to play where we played is going to be a great night and great experience,” said the senior Bagley. 

Alumni Gym apparently still had its charm in the second half for the Redwings, whose 15–17 score at halftime worsened into an 11-point deficit in the third quarter. Benet fell behind with a score of 21–29 at the start of the fourth quarter. From that point, the Redwings’ defense began to kick in. Oswego could make only 2 of its 13 field goals in the third quarter. Benet’s offense also gained momentum as center Frank Kaminsky scored all of his 9 points in the fourth quarter. A shot by senior Mike Runger brought the score to 31–31, and two consecutive driving layups by David Sobolewski gave Benet the lead that would last for the rest of the game. 

“We hit a dry spell there, but let’s give credit where credit is due. Defense wins games and they are the best defensive team we’ve faced all year,” said Oswego coach Kevin Schnable.

Benet’s Matt Parisi led his team with 15 points, and Sobolewski scored 12. Oswego’s Andrew Ziemnik also scored 12. 

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