Shenandoah vs. Marion 12-23-2020
I will admit I have never been a huge fan of class basketball. I know many are, but not me. Wednesday night was the perfect example as to why I believe what I believe. When I think of Marion I lump, Anderson, Richmond and Muncie Central into the same group… powerful basketball programs with a storied history. Marion has eight state championships, fifteen semi-state titles and seventy sectional. Win or lose this evening, the Raiders should relish the chance to play against an elite program. Who will prevail? Marion comes in at 3-1 and also brings a potential Mr. Basketball candidate in the likes of Jalen Blackmon. In the words of Howard Cosell, this game tonight has the makings of a “sensational contest.”
Shenandoah jumped to a quick 5-0 lead. Andrew Bennett missed a layup, however; Kameron Graddy positioned himself perfectly to grab the errant shot and put it back in. Kaden McCollough, who had a stellar game, nailed a three from the northwest corner. Jalen Blackmon standing four feet beyond the arc with Jakeb Kinsey playing tight defense made a quick move towards the bucket and suddenly leaped towards the rafters and let go his own three, hitting nothing but net to cut the lead to 5-3. Marion would be stuck on three for most of the quarter while the Raiders would extend their advantage to ten. Michael Howard ignited the home team by blocking a shot, in transition, Howard fed the ball to McCollough who squared himself to the bucket and let the ball fly for another three. Midway through the first, I noticed the referees were letting both teams play aggressively, and it was an up-tempo affair. Bennett cracked the scoring column to register two of his total of seven points when he gathered in a lob pass from Graddy for a bucket underneath. Moments later Bennett pushed the lead to 13-3 with a three-pointer. Matched up against Blackmon, Kinsey drove inside, was fouled, and sank two freebies to push the lead back to ten, 15-5. In the final 1:40 seconds Shenandoah was outscored six to three. McCollough went up for a jump shot but instead rifled a laser pass to an ever-ready Jasper Campbell for a high percentage layup. Seconds later Campbell drove hard to the bucket but only managed to connect on one of two free-throws. Speaking of freebies the Raiders connected on nine of fourteen from the charity stripe. Shenandoah was up 18-11 after one.
Shenandoah continued to pound the ball underneath to begin the second frame. Kinsey, unintimidated by the Giants pressure, plowed towards the bucket attracting the defense to himself then dumped the ball to an awaiting Campbell to add two of his five points production pushing the lead to nine, 20-11. While sitting behind the team, I noticed the constant high pitched squeaking sound being produced by the friction from the shoes. It sounded like crickets chirping on a summer’s night. Taking a pass from Bennett, Kinsey drove home on the left side for another layup, doubling the score 22-11. Back on defense Graddy having just enough of an angle, slapped the ball enough to cause a tip steal which landed in the hands of Bennett. Racing downcourt Bennett made an inside move then dished the ball back to Graddy who banked it in to again give Shenandoah a 24-13 lead. Shenandoah was steadily building a giant lead on the Giants.
Suddenly, in the blink of an eye, Marion applied full court pressure, there was a noticeable uptick in their speed on defense, their quickness became quicker, more pressure and trappings led to turnovers. The Raiders missed shot after shot. Marion’s pressure was killing Shenandoah and they seemed to have zero answer for the swarming defense. The Giants reeled off thirteen straight points to sprint in front 24-26. The flurry of points created by Marion’s intense determination left the home crowd dazed. Finally the bleeding stopped as Kinsey beat the press and found Graddy open who connected for a shot from eight feet. Having survived the onslaught Bennett drove the baseline and gave a nice bounce pass to Graddy for two more. With the game all tied Graddy put the ball in Howard’s hands who drove the baseline for two of his five points and put Shenandoah up two at the half, 30-28.
During halftime I meandered over and gazed upon the huge placard which keeps account of Shenandoah sports records. My name is not up there, thank goodness someone was not counting strikeouts or errors in 1972 or my name would surely be. I still noticed, my classmate and childhood neighbor, Ron Munden still holds the record for long jump at 22’4” plus inches. Three weeks ago my wife and I were in Bloomfield, Indiana, 123 miles from Anderson. While we were in a local eatery, I spied a younger man, wearing a mask who reminded me of Ronnie. I stepped forward and asked if his last name was Munden and sure enough it was! To end this story before the third quarter starts, he called his Dad who was two minutes away. Shortly after we had a nice twenty-minute visit where I inquired if he still held the long jump record. He thought he did…Ronnie does and before we departed, he told me he would like to meet the person who breaks his record. Ronnie’s brother Jerry is a former Raider basketball player and fan.
Shenandoah opened the third with two consecutive buckets down low from Graddy. Drake Stevens, a freshman, got the ball to Kinsey who found Graddy down under for a quick bucket. Next time downcourt it was déjà vu again between Kinsey and Graddy…Raiders up 34-30. Midway through the third the score was tied before Howard basically handed the ball to McCollough who promptly added to his total of seventeen points with another three from the southwest corner. Having the hot hand McCollough converted a jumper from twelve feet for a short lived 39-37 lead.
Normally when a foul is whistled it goes uncontested by the coach. However when Kinsey was called for a personal Coach McCollough made a beeline to the referee and explained to him that was not possible because Kinsey was nowhere near the infraction. A referee huddle ensued. Apparently agreeing Kinsey was not the guilty one, McCollough was called for the infraction. McCollough objected again and won his appeal. Another huddle by the men in stripes. I believe I heard the ref say to the scorers bench we have to call it on someone so give it to #10. I was unsure I heard correctly so I asked Beth Goff and she concurred. Foul on Campbell.
To finish the third quarter Bennett received an inbounds pass and scored a 9.2 on his twisting layup. Down by one Bennett found McCollough open in the corner who connected
from downtown for a 44-42 lead with 1:07 left. Marion knotted it 44-44 in the final minute as it appeared both teams were prepared to go down to the wire in the four quarter.
Shenandoah owned the fourth quarter except for the first two plus minutes as Marion continued to lead but never more than one possession. McCollough was fouled while driving inside and hit two freebies to inch closer 46-47. After Marion scored again, Kinsey dished off to Graddy for the first of his six layups in the final period…I would argue Graddy owned the paint underneath from this point forward. Adding to his twenty-five points he collected eleven rebounds and had four blocked shots for the game. Still down by one measly point 48-49 Blackmon had a breakaway. It would have been his third dunk of the night, but he missed it and the Raider crowd enjoyed the moment. Ole Mo seemed to have changed at that moment swaying over to the Raiders. Marion clicked in another bucket for a 48-51 cushion. Then the unimaginable happened as the Raiders scored an astonishing nineteen straight points. Graddy took an assist from Bennett to crawl within one 50-51. Howard nailed a three to the right of the key, Raiders up 53-51. Graddy added insult to injury when he cleanly stuffed Blackmon which eventually led to one freebie from Kinsey. Bennett fired the ball to Howard who redirected it in the paint for another Graddy layup. Kinsey added two from the charity strip. McCollough found Graddy open again and added a free-throw for a three-point play and a 61-51 lead. After one free throw by Kinsey, Shenandoah completed a minimum of a dozen passes before Graddy put more icing on the cake to make it 64-51. The Raiders would add another three points as the starters were pulled. In a most unpredictable manner Shenandoah proved themselves to be a worthy opponent to Marion. Shenandoah improved to 6-1 with the victory.
Ed Breeden, Shenandoah class of 1973