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Shenandoah boys tame visiting Lions

By RON GREESON - For The Courier-Times

MIDDLETOWN – When the home team Raiders cooled off, and the visitors got hot Friday night, it was gut check time for Shenandoah’s state-ranked varsity boys basketball team.

And the hosts responded in Von Jameson Memorial Gymnasium, limiting Class 3A Rushville to just nine points in the fourth quarter to hold on for a 57-47 win.

Now 7-1, the Class 2A No. 6 Raiders finished up the 2018 portion of the schedule with the hard-fought win, and now will prepare next week to defend their Henry County Tournament title.

This one was close all game.

In fact, the visiting Lions started fast, scoring the game’s first seven points, and holding the lead until the final minute of the first period.

The second of two straight Kaden McCollough treys, giving the sophomore eight first quarter points, knotted the score at 10 points each at quarter’s end.

But as the Raider defense tightened up in the second quarter, the home team had four-point leads at 16-12 and 18-14, all before Shenandoah scored seven of the last nine points of the first half to lead 25-16 at intermission.

But there was one half to play, and things changed.

First, the Raiders pushed the lead to a dozen at 30-18, but the Lions hung tough. It was still a 12-point lead at 40-28 for Shenandoah before Rushville put together its second, and longest, run of the game.

The Lions scored the next 10 points, to the delight of a large and loud visiting fan section from Rushville in attendance at the game.

With the score at 40-38, and only seconds on the third quarter scoreboard, sophomore guard Jakeb Kinsey broke free down the lane and put in a critical driving layup to put the Raiders up by four points.

It was Kinsey’s fifth straight two-point fielder, without a miss, as he and classmate McCollough carried the scoring load for Shenandoah in this game.

Taking good care of the ball, with only five turnovers, unofficially, in the game, the Raiders were able to draw fouls and sank eight of 11 charity tosses in the final quarter to hold Rushville off. Shenandoah had hit six of seven two-point fielders in the second quarter but could hit just five of 16 for the second half.

But the Raiders were poison from behind the arc, hitting seven of 12 treys in the game.

Shenandoah held five point leads of 47-42 and 51-46 down the stretch, with the latter score at the 2:29 mark. Only seconds later, the score went to 53-46, then on to the final 10-point margin of victory.

Only seven Raiders played in the victory, with McCollough recording a game-high 16 points, including four of six three-pointers. Kinsey had 14 points, Peyton Starks nine, and Evan Coers eight. Kameron Graddy was out with an injury and not in uniform for the game.

Mason Springman led the Rushville scoring with 13 points, with Logan Graddy adding eight, and four different players had six. Duncan Draper was one of the players with six points, and he grabbed an unofficial total of seven rebounds.

Coming off a double weekend of challenging road games at Class 4A foes Anderson and New Palestine and the Christmas holiday break, it was a slow start for the Raiders, particularly on offense.

The very efficient and solid second quarter put the hosts solidly ahead, and early in the second half, it looked like Shenandoah might pull away for a comfortable win, but first-year varsity head coach Doug Laker and his Lions scorched the nets with nine of 12 field goal shooting in the third quarter alone, piling up 22 points in those eight minutes of play.

But the Raiders made the plays down the stretch, getting a steal, or a stop, and converting most of the time at the offensive end.

“We came out a little sluggish at the start, and got behind, so it actually was a good test for us to have to get ourselves back into the game,” said veteran Shenandoah head varsity coach Dave McCollough. “We did a good job of doing that, got a lead and early in the second half, we started to gap (get a sizable lead) them, but to their (Rushville’s) credit they fought right back and made it a close game again.”

McCollough had praise for coach Laker and the Rushville team.

“Coach Laker always does a good job, and his kids are going to try to come back, and they rebounded well and fought hard,” McCollough said. “But in the end, our kids found a way to win the game, like we have done so well all season, and they (Rushville) couldn’t quite do that, which is why they have the record (3-5) that they have so far.”

McCollough spoke of what he thinks his team needs to do to be successful in the county tourney next week, in Mid-Eastern Conference (MEC) play for the rest of the regular season, and in the Class 2A state tournament as February turns to March in the New Year.

“We have to be better defensively, and more consistent defensively, to compete against the better teams on our schedule, and in the state tournament,” McCollough said. “We play pretty good defense at times, but we have periods when we don’t play quite as well. To be elite at the state level, you have to play at a high level consistently, and we haven’t done that yet, but are working at it.”

He spoke of one other area of focus for improvement.

“We have to compete better in rebounding, that is always going to be a challenge for us, and we have to block out and hustle to get rebounds, since we are not a tall team,” McCollough concluded.

Shenandoah plays Tri at 6 p.m. Thursday in the Henry County Tournament, which will be staged this year at Shelton Gymnasium at Blue River Valley High School. Knightstown meets the host Vikings in the second game.

Shenandoah 57, Rushville 47

RUSHVILLE (47)

L. Graddy 2-10 3-5 8, Springman 6-12 0-1 13, Rosenfeld 3-6 0-0 6, Wilson 2-5 0-0 6, Draper 3-4 0-0 6, Brown 2-3 1-2 6, Elmore 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 19-43 4-8 47.

SHENANDOAH (57)

Bennett 2-6 0-0 6, Kinsey 6-8 2-2 14, Starks 4-10 1-4 9, Coers 2-6 3-5 8, McCollough 5-8 2-2 16, Jac. Campbell 1-2 2-2 4, Kimball 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-40 10-15 57.

Rushville`10`6`22`9`-47

Shenandoah`10`15`17`15`-57

3-point goals – Rushville 5 (Wilson 2, L. Graddy, Springman, Brown), Shenandoah 7 (McCullough 4, Bennett 2, Coers). Rebounds – Rushville 20 (Draper 7), Shenandoah 15 (Starks 4, McCullough 4). Total fouls – Rushville 17, Shenandoah 12. Turnovers – Rushville 10, Shenandoah 5. JV score – Rushville 55, Shenandoah 41 (Jas. Campbell 19). Records – Rushville 3-5, Shenandoah 7-1.