Local Duo Ready for Rematch

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Byline: Dick Quagliano Daily Herald Correspondent

Coaches hate to give up home games. But for Mike Howland and his St. Viator boys basketball squad, the opportunity to play at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates was just too good to pass up.

St. Viator was originally scheduled to host East Suburban Catholic Conference rival Notre Dame this year. But when the offer to play in the 16th Annual National Guard High School Hoops Showdown at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates was made, Howland went to his team.

"It is fun for everyone," said Howland, whose team will meet Notre Dame this Saturday at 4:30 p.m. in the first game of a tripleheader at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates. "I went to my guys and asked them, 'You want to play at home or at Sears Centre?' And they all said that they wanted to play at the Sears Centre. "

The second game will feature a rematch between Naperville Central and Benet Academy. Naperville Central edged Benet 57-54 in overtime in the title game of the Oswego Thanksgiving Tournament.

The final game of the evening has two Hall of Fame coaches colliding for the first time since 1984, when they met in the state third-place game. Gordie Kerkman will bring his 14-3 West Aurora squad up against Gene Pingatore's St. Joseph team that was ranked earlier in the season but has slipped to 9-8.

Both Benet and Naperville Central feature two of the area's best big men in 6-foot-9 Sean O'Mara of Benet and 6-foot-9 Nick Czarnowski of Naperville Central.

The two are good friends and drove together to Thursday's night press conference. …