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Raider boys breeze past Blue River for HC Tourney title

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Named to the All-Tournament Team after the conclusion of Saturday night’s championship game of the Henry County Boys Basketball Tournament in Shelton Gymnasium are, from the left, Tri’s Zach Smith, Knightstown’s Treavor Cook, Shenandoah’s Peyton Starks and Andrew Bennett, and Blue River Valley’s Jackson Thornburgh.
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Members, coaches, managers, and cheerleaders of the Class 2A No. 4 Shenandoah High School boys basketball team smile with the trophy after Saturday night’s championship game of the Henry County Tournament in Shelton Gymnasium. The Raiders won their fourth straight title, and fifth in seven years, by defeating host Blue River Valley 66-35.

By DAVID RISLEY - drisley@thecouriertimes.com

MOUNT SUMMIT — The Class 2A No. 4 Shenandoah High School boys basketball team won its fourth straight Henry County Tournament championship, and fifth in seven years, by breezing past tournament host Blue River Valley 66-35 Saturday night in Shelton Gymnasium.

The Raiders outscored two Henry County opponents 156-64 in the tourney and improved to 9-1 for the season, while the Vikings slipped to 7-4.

“I think they (Raiders) have the potential to play for the state championship in March, “ Blue River Valley Coach Brian Klein said after the game. “They may not be the most talented team, but they play really well together and know their strengths and weaknesses. Their quickness and tenacity bothered us and they were relentless for 32 minutes. They killed us on the boards and were the far superior team tonight.”

Shenandoah won the regular season game against Blue River 70-55 on this floor back on Nov. 24, pulling away late for the victory, and a similar game was expected in the title tilt. It didn’t turn out that way.

The Raider defense probably had something to do with it, but the Vikings had an abysmal night shooting the basketball. Blue River hit just 10-of-41 shots from the field (24.4 percent) for the game, and when it got open looks from the free throw line, it could sink only 12-of-24 charity tosses (50 percent).

Despite Shenandoah owning the glass to the tune of 35-22, turnovers were even at 18 apiece and personal fouls were the same (20 called on each team), the Raiders had just two more shots from the field and one more from the charity stripe than did the Vikings, but did a much better job of cashing in on them.

For the game, Shenandoah was 21-of-43 from the field (48.8 percent) and a sizzling 21-of-25 (84 percent) from the free throw line.

And who are teams going to try to stop when all five Raider players on the floor are proficient in scoring? Shenandoah had four players score in double figures in this contest. Peyton Starks and Kaden McCollough led the team with 15 points apiece, Andrew Bennett had 11, and Jakeb Kinsey 10 (on perfect shooting from both the floor and foul line). Jackson Campbell came off the bench to add seven points, also on perfect shooting.

Once again, the Raiders ran their offense and passed the ball so well, they were difficult to defend.

“The first time we played them, we had to play much better the second half to win,” Shenandoah Coach Dave McCollough said after the game. “Tonight, we got off to a good start both offensively and defensively and never let up. Our scoring was balanced and even guys who didn’t contribute much in scoring helped out in other areas by rebounding and defending.”

Blue River led only once at 1-0 on a Brevin Hallatt free throw 45 seconds into the first quarter. From there, Shenandoah zoomed out to 5-1 and 14-4 leads, the latter prompting a Viking timeout with 3:04 remaining in the first period.

The two teams played rather evenly the rest of the quarter, and the Raiders led 17-8 after one. Five players from each team scored in the opening period.

Starks and Blue River’s Cole Cross exchanged buckets to open the second quarter to make the score 19-10 at the 7:22 mark of the period. That was the last time Shenandoah’s advantage was below double digits.

From there, the Raiders outscored the Vikings 17-5 the rest of the quarter to take a commanding 36-15 lead into the locker room at intermission. By this point, Shenandoah already had enough points to win the game, but, of course, no one knew it then.

In the third quarter, the Raider advantage varied between 20 to 25 points until Shenandoah’s Evan Coers nailed a jumper to put his team ahead 51-24 at the 57-second mark of the period, and the Raiders led 51-25 after three.

Blue River got no closer in the fourth quarter, as Shenandoah gradually expanded its advantage to its zenith at 66-31 on a Kinsey basket with 1:52 remaining in the contest.

The Raiders utilized all nine players on their roster available for the game and didn’t really try to score again. Viking sophomore Devon Guffey drained a three-pointer and Carter Morgan added a charity toss with 37 seconds left to conclude the night’s scoring.

Shenandoah also rebounded by committee in the contest. Starks led with eight boards, followed by Coers with seven, McCollough five, Nate Kimball and Campbell four apiece, and Bennett three.

“Getting position is the key to rebounding,” Starks said, “Also, I want to credit my teammates for finding me for open shots.”

Andrew Froedge led Blue River in scoring with 12 points and Cross had nine. Sophomore Bryce Klein had six points and rebounds apiece, Morgan had four boards, and Hallatt three.

Named to the All-Tournament Team were Starks, Bennett, Blue River’s Jackson Thornburgh, Knightstown’s Treavor Cook, and Tri’s Zach Smith.

Shenandoah 66, Blue River Valley 35

SHENANDOAH (66)

Kinsey 4-4 2-2 10, Starks 4-9 7-10 15, Bennett 4-9 2-2 11, McCollough 3-6 7-8 15, Coers 1-6 0-0 2, Jac. Campbell 3-3 1-1 7, Kimball 2-4 0-0 4, Monday 0-2 2-2 2, Jas. Campbell 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-43 21-25 66.

BLUE RIVER VALLEY (35)

Cross 3-8 3-4 9, Klein 1-4 4-7 6, Thornburgh 1-6 1-2 3, Froedge 4-13 2-4 12, Hallatt 0-4 1-2 1, Madden 0-2 0-1 0, Guffey 1-3 0-0 3, Davis 0-0 0-0 0, Morgan 0-1 1-4 1, Appleby 0-0 0-0 0, Liles 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 10-41 12-24 35.

Shenandoah 17 19 15 15 - 66

Blue River 8 7 10 10 - 35

3-point goals – Shenandoah 3 (McCollough 2, Bennett), Blue River 3 (Froedge 2, Guffey). Rebounds – Shenandoah 35 (Starks 8, Coers 7, McCollough 5, Jac. Campbell 4, Kimball 4), Blue River 22 (Klein 6, Madden 4). Total fouls – Shenandoah 20, Blue River 20. Turnovers – Shenandoah 18, Blue River 18. Fouled out – Cross, Hallatt. Records – Shenandoah 9-1, Blue River 7-4.