When high school basketball fans think back to the 1980s, programs like Quincy, Providence St. Mel, East St. Louis Lincoln and the arrival of city powers King and Simeon are easy to think back on.
The 1990s brought us memorable basketball giants in Peoria Manual and Thornton, a few steamrolling Proviso East teams and the continued dominance of King.
The first 10 years of the 2000s included Glenbrook North, Peoria High and the beginning of a Simeon juggernaut.
This list is comprised of the 50 winningest programs over the past 10 years, starting with the 2010-11 season and concluding with the 2019-20 season. Every team in every class throughout the Chicago area will be broken down in a variety of ways. But total wins, with winning percentage used as tie-breaker, determined the rankings.
We present No. 3 Benet today and will add one program a day going forward.
3. BENET: 253-63
Decade biggest storyline: The 2010-11 team didn’t bring home a state trophy as two other Benet teams did during the decade, but it’s a team that captivated the fanbase, grabbed statewide headlines and was nationally ranked.
A team led by Northwestern recruit Dave Sobolewski and future All-American and NBA Lottery pick Frank Kaminsky, Benet’s 2010-11 team was the talk of high school basketball for months.
In one of the greatest, high-profile games of the decade featuring the top two teams in the state, Benet beat Simeon before a sold out UIC Pavilion crowd. The Redwings also won the Proviso West Holiday Tournament and headed into state tournament play unbeaten on the season.
But the season ended abruptly in the sectional at East Aurora, where the host school and superstar Ryan Boatright stunned Benet, the No. 6 ranked team in the country.
Nonetheless, it’s arguably one of the best teams to not win a state championship from the decade and one that still finished as USA Today’s No. 21 team in the country. The Redwings finished the year 29-1.
Underrated highlight: When two state runner-up finishes aren’t the decade’s biggest storyline, it says an awful lot about the success of a program.
Both the 2013-14 and 2015-16 teams put together historic seasons, finishing second in the state in Class 4A both years — the best state finishes in program history. The 2015-16 team set a school record for wins with 31.
Benet made a surprising run in 2013-14 behind the play of big man Sean O’Mara. The Redwings, who were just 11-7 in late January, went on a second half run to win 25 games and reached Peoria. Benet gave Jahlil Okafor and Young all it could handle in the state championship, holding the dominating Okafor to just eight points and six rebounds while losing 46-44.
The 2015-16 team, led by a balanced group featuring James Dockery, Jason Malonga, Daniel Sobolewski and Jack Nolan, beat Simeon 49-48 in the state semifinals before losing to Curie in the state championship.
Player of the Decade: Dave Sobolewski (2011)
All-Decade Team: Dave Sobolewski (2011), Frank Kaminsky (2011), Sean O’Meara (2014), Collin Bonnett (2015) and Jack Nolan (2017)
Other decade highlights:
-Benet won 20 or more games every single season of the decade.
-The East Suburban Catholic Conference is a proud, tradition-rich basketball league with five teams among the top 50 winningest programs of the decade. Yet Benet went an impressive 74-17 in ESCC play with three league titles in the decade: 2010-11, 2012-13 and 2015-16.
-Dave Sobolewski, O’Mara and Colin Crothers were all 1,000-point scorers in their career during the decade and finished among the all-time leading scorers in program history.
-Benet won 12 regular-season tournament championships in the decade.
-During a stretch from January 2010 through early December 2011, Benet won 43 consecutive regular-season games and went 49-2 overall during that time.
-Coach Gene Heidkamp won his 300th game this past season and was twice named the City/Suburban Hoops Report Coach of the Year.