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Bennett's big game helps lead Raiders past Eagles in semifinals

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This was part of the gigantic crowd of Shenandoah boys high school basketball fans who showed up to support their Class 2A No. 2 Raiders against Heritage Christian in Saturday afternoon’s semifinal game of Class 2A Regional 11 at Greenfield-Central High School. They were were rewarded when the Raiders used a 19-4 third-quarter blitz to grab a big lead and held on for a 62-55 win over the Eagles.
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Shenandoah’s Andrew Bennett (12) closely guards Heritage Christian’s Bennett Coster (30) during Saturday afternoon’s boys high school basketball semifinal game of Class 2A Regional 11 at Greenfield-Central High School. Andrew Bennett had a monster game of 30 points, 14 of those in the decisive third quarter, and pulled down a team-high six rebounds as the Class 2A No. 2 Raiders defeated the Eagles 62-55.
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Shenandoah’s Peyton Starks (11) goes up for two points against the defense of Heritage Christian’s Harrison Eckel (13) during Saturday afternoon’s boys basketball semifinal game of Class 2A Regional 11 at Greenfield-Central High School. Tied at halftime, the Class 2A No. 2 Raiders used a 19-4 run in the third quarter to build a lead they never relinquished in their 62-55 victory over the Eagles.

By DAVID RISLEY - drisley@thecouriertimes.com

GREENFIELD — The third time was a charm for the Class 2A No. 2 Shenandoah High School boys basketball team in the semifinals of Regional 11 Saturday afternoon at Greenfield-Central High School.

Thwarted in their efforts to reach the regional final the prior two seasons, the Raiders got a monster game from sophomore Andrew Bennett and a big third quarter to swing things into their favor as they defeated Heritage Christian 62-55.

Shenandoah improved to 25-1 for the season and advanced to Saturday night’s championship game where it faced Northeastern. The Knights held on to defeat Monrovia 58-54 in Saturday’s first semifinal contest.

Heritage Christian bowed out of the tournament with a 19-6 record.

“We got outrebounded in the game,” Shenandoah Coach Dave McCollough said afterward, “and we gave up way too many offensive rebounds that first half. They (Eagles) have some good shooters and do a good job of attacking the rim. I thought we did a much better job defensively and rebounding in the second half, and that helped turn the game to our favor.”

Bennett has had good games before, but it’s doubtful he’s had a better game with so much riding on the outcome.

Bennett poured in a game-high 30 points on 9-of-11 shooting from the field and 9-of-10 from the free throw line. Three of Bennett’s field goals were three-pointers. In addition, he led his team in rebounding with six boards.

“Andrew had a great game,” Coach McCollough remarked. “We got from 10 down to four points from the rest of the team. Andrew led us this afternoon, but anyone of our guys could lead us tonight. That’s what’s so nice about this team and makes us difficult to defend.”

Not much was settled in a low-scoring first half.

Tied at 4-all midway through the first quarter, Heritage Christian got a basket from Andrew Williams and a trey from Will Christie to grab a 9-4 lead and prompted a timeout by Coach McCollough.

Frequently, things go well after a timeout called by the Raider boss, and this was no exception. Shenandoah held the Eagles scoreless the rest of the opening period and got a Bennett traditional three-point play and consecutive buckets by Kaden McCollough to grab an 11-9 advantage after one.

After HC’s Jack Arterburn tied the game with a basket early in the second quarter, the Raiders scored seven of the next nine points on a Peyton Starks basket, two Bennett charity tosses, and a three-pointer by senior Evan Coers for an 18-13 lead with 2:38 remaining in the first half.

The Eagles got right back into the contest when Andrew Williams was fouled while in the process of sinking a trey and converted the four-point play.

Starks hit one of two free throws and HC junior Harrison Eckel canned a bucket, and the two teams were deadlocked at 19-all heading into intermission.

Shenandoah was 7-for-15 and the Eagles 8-for-19 from the field in the first half. The Raiders were in a tie because they hit 4-of-5 charity tosses in the opening half compared to 1-for-1 for HC.

The third quarter proved to be the difference in this contest. Bennett hit a basket 76 seconds into the period, but Andrew Williams buried a trey giving the Eagles their final lead of the game at 22-21 with 6:05 left in the third quarter.

Bennett came right back a nailed a shot from behind the arc to give Shenandoah the lead for good at 24-22.

After Eckel hit the first of two free throws at the 5:27 mark of the third period to pull his team to within 24-23, HC didn’t score the rest of the quarter.

Bennett tossed in nine more points and Jakeb Kinsey added five more on a trey and a deuce for a 14-0 run that put the Raiders up 38-23 after three.

After scoring a paltry four points in period three and down 15 points entering the final eight minutes, the Eagles didn’t quit and started battling back.

But the Raiders responded to every challenge and still held a 15-point lead at 53-38 after a Bennett traditional three-point play with 3:25 remaining in the game.

Still HC kept attacking and fouling Shenandoah, hoping it would miss the charity tosses. The Raiders obliged some in that capacity, missing eight free throws in the final period, but still made 11 to keep ahead by a good margin.

The closest the Eagles got was the final score of 62-55 after an Eckel three-pointer with three seconds left in the game.

Eckel scored 12 points and Andrew Williams 11 in the final quarter to lead HC, while Bennett tallied nine more points and McCollough six to lead Shenandoah in the last quarter.

The Raiders shot a blistering 12-of-17 (70.6 percent) from the field in the second half to finish 19-of-32 (59.4 percent) from the floor in the contest. Shenandoah was 17-of-26 shooting free throws in the game for 65.4 percent accuracy.

The Eagles ended up shooting 18-of-45 (40 percent) from the field and 11-of-16 (68.8 percent) from the charity stripe.

HC won the battle of the boards 27-19 and committed 10 turnovers to Shenandoah’s 11.

In addition to Bennett’s numbers, McCollough scored 10 points, Coers seven, Starks six, Kinsey five, and Jackson Campbell four for the Raiders.

Andrew Williams had 22 points and eight rebounds, and Eckel added 19 points and a game-high nine rebounds to lead the Eagles.

“Northeastern had a big win over a really good Monrovia team with some length,” Coach McCollough added. “We’ll need to defend, rebound, and move the ball well and hit our free throws to beat them.”

Shenandoah 62, Heritage Christian 55

SHENANDOAH (62)

Kinsey 2-8 0-2 5, Starks 2-2 2-4 6, Bennett 9-11 9-10 30, McCollough 4-7 1-2 10, Coers 2-4 1-2 7, Jack. Campbell 0-0 4-6 4, Kimball 0-0 0-0 0, Graddy 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-32 17-26 62.

HERITAGE CHRISTIAN (55)

Doran 0-3 0-0 0, A. Williams 7-15 4-6 22, Arterburn 2-12 0-0 5, Eckel 7-11 4-6 19, Coster 0-1 3-4 3, Christie 2-3 0-0 6, Nolan 0-0 0-2 0, Johnson 0-0 0-0 0, J. Williams 0-0 0-0 0, McGrew 0-0 0-0 0, Pauwels 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 18-45 11-16 55.

Shenandoah 11 8 19 24 - 62

Heritage Christian 9 10 4 32 - 55

3-point goals – Shenandoah 7 (Bennett 3, Coers 2, Kinsey, McCollough), Heritage Christian 8 (A. Williams 4, Christie 2, Arterburn, Eckel). Rebounds – Shenandoah 19 (Bennett 6), Heritage Christian 27 (Eckel 9, A. Williams 8). Total fouls – Shenandoah 13, Heritage Christian 23. Turnovers – Shenandoah 11, Heritage Christian 10. Fouled out – Starks, Doran. Records – Shenandoah 25-1, Heritage Christian 19-6.