Raiders News · Raiders Take Henry County Championship (Ed Breeden)

Shenandoah vr. Blue River 1-9-2021

Historical evidence from the last six years strongly indicated Shenandoah should win this game between Blue River going away, after all they defeated them less than a month ago 71-38. History also teaches Coach McCollough has yet to have a team under his domain lose a game to any county school in his six-year tenure. Even more, this gentleman in bib overalls with a ballcap cocked on his head told me out of the blue, “Everyone in this gym knows Shenandoah is going to win tonight.” I shared with this fine fella Shenandoah had to earn the victory because Blue River was not going to hand them the trophy. I settled in with the other sixty-eight or so fans to watch the game.

The first quarter began much like the previous contest held in December as Shenandoah jumped to a 9-2 lead, but they also committed four turnovers. Kaden McCollough got the ball rolling by faking his opponent into the air, then dribbled around him for a 2-0 lead. After a quick tie Andrew Bennett fed a nice pass to Kameron Graddy who connected for a turn around jumper. McCollough followed with a nice three from the northeast corner to push the lead to 7-2. Seconds later Bennett freed himself with the help of a nice pick set by Michael Howard and sank a short jumper for a 9-2 advantage. Blue River, I would guess understood they could not run with the Raiders, as most teams struggle to do, decided to work the ball around and underneath to their two 6’5” big men. This strategy certainly paid off in the first eight minutes because Shenandoah got into some minor foul trouble and their shots were not falling. Credit the Vikings defense, case in point, Bennett stole the ball had a breakaway layup, but it was blocked by a hustling Viking. Blue River clawed back 9-6 before Bennett gave a nice assist to Tanner Goff for an 11-6 cushion. With the score 11-8 Shenandoah worked the clock down for the final shot but missed at the buzzer.

To begin the second frame Shenandoah was held scoreless for seventy-five seconds. Finally McCollough drove underneath, was hammered, and sank two free-throws. Down low in the paint Jasper Campbell and Graddy were extremely aggressive in their battles for rebounds. Blue River was not backing down and fought equally hard for every loose ball. Campbell scored on an inbounds play to make the score 15-8 Raiders. The Vikings came roaring back with buckets coming downlow to make it a one-point game 15-14. Ole Mo was slowly changing especially when a 6’1’ Viking out rebounded the much taller front line of

Shenandoah. The Raiders were in a fight for sure. Back on defense Bennett timed his jump perfectly to block a shot to thwart a potential lead change and then scored on a layup to push the lead to three 17-14. Extolled by their coach Blue River was hanging tough. Goff received a pass from Campbell and was called for traveling by the Blue River coach but not by the referees and his layup pushed the lead back to four 19-15. To make matters interesting Bennett was called for two fouls miles from the bucket and Shenandoah again missed a shot at the buzzer but still led with the second half to play.

I changed my seating position from the north end of the court to the south side to start the second half. I heard the battle cry of, “Go, go, go Raiders”, from Greg Goff echoing across the near vacant gym. I noticed family units were in their own little safe space with Covid19 guidelines in place. At least the teams are being allowed to compete instead of the season cancelled.

Bennett opened the third with a steal at mid court and was fouled going in for a layup and converted two freebies. On defense Bennett was whistled for a foul. While the Viking was on the line, apparently one of the referees took issue with whatever Bennett was saying on not saying. After a brief word to Bennett the ref called out to Coach McCollough and motioned to him, mimicking with his hand, Bennett was talking too much. Another referee tried to intervene but was waved off…Bennett was pulled.

When play resumed Graddy scored the next six points after he muscled down a rebound and put it up and in and then after he gave a nice fake, he made a quick move for another layup to increase the lead to 25-15. Making some adjustments Shenandoah defense was really getting after the ball much of it coming from Goff who was duly noted by the coach after the game in our conversation. Also, credit the defenders down low as they began sagging in the paint taking away the low post-game of the Vikings. Graddy turned up his playing volume as he out muscled and maneuvered three Blue River players to end up at the line and pushed the lead to 27-15. Campbell playing aggressively as well followed his missed shot and was fouled which gave the ball back to Shenandoah. Deciding to kill the clock the Raiders, with less than a minute remaining, put the ball into McCollough’s hands who promptly drilled a three which doubled the

score 30-15. Wait a minute, the Vikings still had fifteen points! Had they been shutout in the third quarter? Yes.

Graddy opened the scoring with a layup and according to some faithful fans he was fouled hard, but their pleas fell on mute ears. Next time down the court Blue Rivers front line hammered Graddy so hard he ended up at the line and dropped one free throw to push the lead to 33-15. Finally after ten minutes the Vikings scoring drought ended but the score was still doubled 34-17. Campbell who had a quiet night offensively with only four points was involved in the next six Raider points. Sandwiched between a layup he dished out two assist, one to Goff and the later to McCollough who made a nice jumper from eight feet. Leading 40-23 Blue River made a run of eight straight to close within 40-31 with 1:14 left. Too little too late as Graddy scored from the line and Bennett closed it out with two freebies to end the games scoring 43-31.

Graddy and McCollough each scored a dozen points to lead the Raiders, were honored by being selected to the all-county team after the game. Bennett scored nine. Goff was selected by his peers to accept the team’s trophy ended up with six points. Shenandoah moved to 9-3 on the season.

Ed Breeden, Class of 1973