LEWISVILLE - It didn't take the Class 2A No. 2 Shenandoah High School boys basketball team long to establish its dominance over Knightstown Thursday evening in the first game of the opening round of the Henry County Boys Basketball Tournament at Tri.
The Raiders scored the first 17 points of the contest, built a 47-point lead after three quarters, and cruised to a 76-24 victory over the Panthers.
Shenandoah will play Blue River Valley tonight in the county tourney championship game. The Vikings prevailed over Tri 53-47 in overtime in Thursday's second opening-round contest. The Raiders defeated host Blue River 71-38 back on Dec. 16.
Shenandoah, in quest of its sixth straight county tourney title, broke a two-game losing streak and improved to 8-3 for the season. Knightstown remained winless in the 2021-21 campaign and dropped to 0-7 for the season.
"We came out and played liked we wanted to do and needed to do to get the win," remarked Shenandoah Head Coach Dave McCollough, who hasn't lost a Henry County Tournament game in his six seasons at SHS. "We passed the ball well and played well on the defensive end. It was another solid performance for us."
After the Raiders scored those 17 points to open the first period, the Panthers finally removed their goose egg from the scoreboard on a three-pointer from Aaron Reagan with 3:37 remaining in the quarter.
Shenandoah then outscored Knightstown 10-2 the rest of the period and led 27-5 after one.
The sticky, pressing Raider defense forced eight Panther turnovers in the first frame, many leading to easy baskets for Shenandoah.
Kameron Graddy tallied 12 points and Andrew Bennett nine to lead the Raiders in the opening stanza.
Shenandoah scored the first seven points of the second quarter on a Bennett basket and three-pointer plus another Graddy bucket for a 34-5 lead with 6:04 remaining in the period.
Knightstown's Connor Pyle scored a basket at the 5:38 mark to trim the deficit to 34-7. The Raiders then outscored the Panthers 13-6 the rest of the first half to take a 47-13 advantage into the locker room at intermission.
Six Shenandoah players scored from two to five points apiece in the second frame, while three Knightstown players scored in the stanza, led by Reagan's four points.
The Raiders shot lights-out in the first half, 21-of-29 (72.4 percent) from the field and 4-of-5 (80 percent) from the free throw line.
The Panthers cut down on their turnovers in the second quarter, but still could muster just 5-of-22 (22.7 percent) accuracy from the floor in the opening 16 minutes and hit one of their two charity tosses for 50 percent.
Shenandoah continued its torrid shooting in the third period, hitting 9-of-12 field goals for 75 percent marksmanship, as it outscored Knightstown 20-7 in the quarter to build a 67-40 advantage after three.
Kaden McCollough tallied one-half (10) of the Raider points in the third stanza, and five of his teammates hit a basket apiece.
Robert Porter scored four of the seven Panther points in the third frame.
With the outcome of the game already decided, the fourth quarter just determined what the final score would be.
The Shenandoah lead reached its zenith at 76-22 with 3:02 remaining in the game after a Drake Stevens bucket, and a Porter basket with 1:46 left in the contest closed out the scoring.
Michael Howard tallied four points for the Raiders in the low-scoring final stanza.
Shenandoah won the battle of the boards 27-16 and committed just 10 turnovers in the game compared to 23 for Knightstown.
For the game, the Raiders shot 33-for-49 (67.3 percent) from the field and 7-of-9 (77.7 percent) from the free throw line. In contrast, the Panthers shot 9-of-39 (23.1 percent) from the floor and 3-of-7 (42.9 percent) from the charity stripe.
Once again, Shenandoah was well-balanced in scoring with four players scoring in double digits. Bennett and Graddy led the way with 16 points apiece, followed by McCollough and Howard with 14 each. Tanner Goff had seven points, Jasper Campbell five, and Lucas Mills and Drake Stevens two apiece.
Bennett and Graddy pulled down five rebounds each, and Campbell had four boards.
Jakeb Kinsey, the Raiders' leading scorer, did not play in the game because he was recovering from a sprained ankle.
Porter led Knightstown in scoring with 10 points, followed by Reagan seven, Pyle four, and Mason Fields three. Reagan and Pyle had four rebounds apiece.
This reporter attempted to catch up with Panther Head Coach Tanner Hedrick for comments after the game, but he already had left the building.
Shenandoah 76, Knightstown 24
Porter 4-10 1-2 10, Newkirk 0-2 0-0 0, Roberson 0-2 0-0 0, Pyle 2-5 0-0 4, Murphy 0-0 0-0 0, Reagan 2-10 1-2 7, Fields 1-5 1-3 3, Smith 0-2 0-0 0, Johnson 0-2 0-0 0, Waggoner 0-0 0-0 0, Byers 0-0 0-0 0, Jones 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 9-39 3-7 24.
Campbell 2-4 1-1 5, Bennett 7-10 1-2 16, Graddy 8-11 0-0 16, McCollough 5-6 2-2 14, Howard 7-10 0-0 14, Goff 2-2 3-4 7, Mills 1-2 0-0 2, D. Stevens 1-2 0-0 2, J. Stevens 0-2 0-0 0, Brookbank 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 33-49 7-9 76.
3-point goals – Knightstown 3 (Reagan 2, Porter), Shenandoah 3 (McCollough 2, Bennett). Rebounds – Knightstown 16 (Pyle 4, Fields 4), Shenandoah 27 (Bennett 5, Graddy 5, Campbell 4). Total fouls – Knightstown 9, Shenandoah 9. Turnovers – Knightstown 23, Shenandoah 10. Records – Knightstown 0-7, Shenandoah 8-3.