Get on your feet the IHSA 4A boys basketball State championship is here at the State Farm Center on the campus of the University of Illinois featuring Benet Academy, who returns to the big one for the first time since 2016 after a dominating semifinal win over New Trier. Standing in the way of the first State championship trophy for Benet is Moline, led by Iowa commits Owen Freeman and Brock Harding, who have combined for 1,309 of the Maroons points this season. Moline is also looking for their first boys basketball State title in school history after falling in the championship game to Freeport in 1951. The Redwings forced to play without leading scorer Brady Kunka, who injured his ankle early in the semifinal the day before. This highlight is sponsored by BMO Harris Bank.
Both teams with fireworks early
Benet keeps their momentum from the day before, starting with Andy Nash sinking the game’s opening three to put the Redwings on top 3-0.
A few possessions later Niko Abusara blows by the defense and scores with the foul to give his squad a 7-4 lead.
The Maroons don’t bat an eye as the Iowa boys get things going with Owen Freeman getting the Brock Harding pass and uses his six-foot ten frame to lay it in.
Then Freeman passes to Jasper Ogburn who goes off the glass and gives Moline an early 12-7 advantage.
Brayden Fagbemi putting the team on his back
Redwings climb back in it with Brayden Fagbemi who hits a three in time before the buzzer sounds. The Redwings trail 17-15 after the first.
Fagbemi continues his attack in the paint and this floater puts Benet within two once again at 21-19. 12 points on the night for the senior.
Later in the second quarter, all tied at 23 when Grant Welch puts on the Euro Step to put the Maroons back in front.
Harding in his final high school game, is wanting to add on to his scoring total, showing excitement for all the Moline fans.
Harding is looking for more so he shoots for three, gets it with the bounce and the foul. Moline takes a 32-25 lead into the half.
Moline flips the switch in the second half
Harding and Freeman were on point all game as the guard lobs to his center who tips it in. Only six points in the game for Freeman, but Moline is starting to run away with this one up 40-28.
Benet still has some life in them. Nash is open on the wing and connects for the three to stay within striking distance.
Then they get a turnover on defense and it’s Abusara throwing down the two handed jam. It’s now a 42-33 deficit.
However the Maroons were a wrecking machine all night as Harding puts in a beautiful reverse lay-in to lead all scorers with 28 points. That helps the Maroons bring their first ever boys basketball State championship after a 59-42 win. Benet Academy finishes a season to remember at 35-2, ending as the 4A runner up for the third time under head coach Gene Heidkamp.
For more prep sports highlights, visit the Naperville Sports Weekly page!