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Big second half lifts Raiders past Bulldogs, 56-37

By RON GREESON - For The Courier-Times

MIDDLETOWN – The Shenandoah High School boys basketball team started with unusually cold shooting, but it didn’t last.

The Class 2A No. 2 Raiders heated up in the middle two quarters and then got hot in the fourth to post a runaway 56-37 win over rival Lapel Friday night in Von Jameson Memorial Gymnasium.

Now 16-1, Shenandoah won for the 10th straight time, while Lapel fell to 11-7 with the loss.

The visiting Bulldogs, coached by Hall of Fame varsity Head Coach Jimmie Howell, started well, leading for much of the first quarter, and holding a 9-6 advantage at the first break.

Lapel led 16-13 at the 3:15 mark of the second quarter before four straight Raider points gave the home team the lead, prompting Howell to call his first timeout of the game. Each team scored four more points before intermission, giving Shenandoah a slim 21-20 lead at halftime.

But leading scorer Andrew Bennett got going in that second quarter for the Raiders, recording eight of the team’s 15 points in those eight minutes of play, and he was just getting started.

Bennett scored eight more in the third period, and Shenandoah had 15, and led 36-29 going into the fourth period.

Meanwhile, the Bulldogs struggled mightily with the suffocating Raider defense, as Lapel hit only three two-point field goals in the entire second half, this after recording seven such buckets in the first half. Cole Alexander had scored nine points in the first half, but was blanked by the Shenandoah defense in the second half, missing the only two shots he was even able to attempt.

“Defensively, we got to the shooters pretty well in the second half,” said SHS varsity Head Coach Dave McCollough after the win. “We wanted to defend (center and leader scorer Luke) Richardson well, but not to focus so much on him that we allowed other people to score, because they (Lapel) have players that can do that.”

Richardson, who entered the game averaging 21 points a game for the season, managed just 11, and only four in the first half. He hit just five of 12 field goals, much worse than his high shooting percentage for the entire campaign.

The team’s point guard, Carson Huber, had just three points on one trey, and he was harassed into several turnovers by the defensive pressure of Bennett, Jakeb Kinsey, and others, as Lapel turned it over often.

Unofficially, the Bulldogs had 15 miscues as compared to just eight for the Raiders.

In fact, two treys by Noah Frazier in the third quarter was all that kept Lapel within range of Shenandoah after three quarters, staying within seven points, but an 11-point spurt in less than three minutes put the Raiders ahead 49-31 by the 4:09 mark of the fourth quarter, and the final margin was just academic from that point on. The die was cast on another Shenandoah victory in what is quickly becoming a most special Raider varsity boys basketball season.

“We played with high energy on defense in the second half, and we got key contributions from some different guys in this game,” McCollough commented after the rivalry win. “Jackson Campbell did a great job, defensively and rebounding, playing more since Peyton (Starks) was in foul trouble. Kameron Graddy came in and played very well, and (Evan) Coers had a strong all-around game.”

All of those players did exactly that, with Coers scoring 14 points, 10 in the second half, and he hit three treys. Bennett was the game-high scorer with 20 points, but McCollough spoke of the defensive prowess of his standout sophomore, ball-hawking guard.

“Andrew has very quick hands, good knowledge of the game, and even though he can sometimes be a little impatient on offense, is just playing very well for us,” McCollough commented. “I thought one of the keys to this game was rebounding, and we did well to outrebound Lapel, which is a taller team than we are, but we did well with that, especially in the second half. Overall, it was a pretty good team effort and an important win for our season.”

Last year, Shenandoah won at Lapel 61-53, but coming into the game, over the last 30 years, each team had won 13 times.

And this one was anybody’s game, at least for the first half.

In the fourth quarter, the Raiders were most efficient offensively, hitting seven of nine two-point field goals and two of three treys to put the game away. Both teams put in all reserves in the late going, as both had Saturday night games to play on a double-dip weekend, as the regular season winds down.

“This team took a step forward when the players increased their pride on play at the defensive end,” McCollough remarked. “Our offense feeds off our defense, so our offense improves when we are playing better defense, getting steals and at least stops, and grabbing the rebound if opposition shots are missed. This is a team that has players that have accepted their roles and play well together. I feel really good about this team and what it can accomplish the rest of the way.”

The Raiders took a 5-0 Mid-Eastern Conference (MEC) record and the conference lead into the Saturday night road conference tussle east on U.S. 36 at Randolph Southern High School. The Bulldogs were slated to host Hagerstown Saturday night. Lapel is an independent.

Shenandoah is back at home Tuesday night with another MEC game, as Union (Modoc) visits. The Raiders go to Hagerstown on Friday, and then finish with two home conference games in the last week of the regular season.

Eastern Hancock is scheduled to come play Shenandoah Feb. 19, then Wapahani visits Feb. 22.

In Friday’s junior varsity game, Lapel held on for the win 64-49. The Bulldogs were led by Griffin Craig with 18 points on six three-point field goals. The Raiders were paced by Jasper Campbell with 24 points, 21 in the second half.

Shenandoah 56, Lapel 37

LAPEL (37)

Richardson 5-12 1-3 11, Busch 0-0 0-0 0, Ratzlaff 1-3 0-0 2, Hogen 0-0 0-0 0, Alexander 3-13 3-4 9, Huber 1-5 0-0 3, Frazier 2-4 0-0 6, Bullard 0-2 4-5 4, Carpenter 1-1 0-0 2, White 0-0 0-0 0, Mills 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 13-40 8-12 37.

SHENANDOAH (56)

Kinsey 3-9 0-0 6, Starks 1-5 0-0 2, Bennett 8-16 4-6 20, McCollough 3-8 2-2 10, Coers 5-9 1-2 14, Jac. Campbell 2-3 0-0 4, Kimball 0-1 0-0 0, Jas. Campbell 0-0 0-0 0, Graddy 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 22-60 7-10 56.

Lapel 9 11 9 8 -37

Shenandoah 6 15 15 20 -56

3-point goals – Lapel 3 (Frazier 2, Huber), Shenandoah 5 (Coers 3, McCollough 2). Rebounds – Lapel 24 (Richardson 7), Shenandoah 27 (Jac. Campbell 8). Total fouls – Lapel 11, Shenandoah 10. Fouled out – Starks. Turnovers – Lapel 15, Shenandoah 8. JV score – Lapel 64 (Craig 18), Shenandoah 49 (Jas. Campbell 24). Records – Lapel 11-7, Shenandoah 16-1.