Shenandoah vr. Parke Heritage 3-13-2021
All day long the sun was shining in the cloudless skies of Indiana. Upon returning to Anderson after Shenandoah won their first game of the regional, my wife and I took an hour stroll through Mounds Park. The sun seemed extra bright as we could hear the call of the barred owl hidden amongst the trees but could not find its location. Soon I was off to witness the championship game of the #2 rated 25-3 Raiders and the #4 ranked 25-3 Parke Heritage Wolves. While heading west on St. Rd. 40 the sun began its daily decent towards the horizon, but I also noticed a huge, massive blackish front heading east. It appeared to me a storm was coming soon. The stormed turn out to be the Wolves from Rockville, Indiana who rocked and crumbled Shenandoah stellar season with a convincing win over our beloved Raiders.
My pregame notes had one word…legs. In my years of watching basketball during tournament time those teams who play the second game and are fortunate enough to win, have to suit up six hours later and often have tired legs for the evening game. Leg cramps creep up, jump shots fall short or free throws do not fall…it will be noteworthy to see how Shenandoah responds on short rest. Shenandoah lost the center jump and fell behind 0-2, then 0-5 and finally 0-7 before calling timeout. Not the start the Raider Nation was looking for. At the 5:45 mark Kameron Graddy got the Raiders on the board when he broke free underneath on an inbounds pass from Andrew Bennett. Seconds later Graddy made a nice block which was picked up by Jakeb Kinsey who went coast to coast before he was fouled in the act of shooting. After he sank one freebie, with 5:28 remaining in the first quarter, to close the gap to four, 3-7, the potent Raider offense uncharacteristically fell silence as their deadly arrows missed the bullseye. My writing skills are limited, and I am certainly not a statistician, but I will inform my readers Shenandoah missed all five of their three-point attempts, had four turnovers, garnered one free throw and did not press but picked the Wolves up at half court. By quarters end the score board read Raiders 3, Wolves 12.
The second stanza was slow as molasses, it was like watching paint dry. Parke Heritage was very, very deliberate in their offensive sets, one could say they let the air out of the ball. On the other hand Shenandoah’s offense mounted to one and done as their shooting woes continued. Shenandoah’s shots were only finding iron and they were unable to gather any offensive rebounds for a second or third chance to score. The Raiders managed only five points in the second quarter. Kinsey fed Graddy who turned around for a left-handed layup which made the score 5-13. Bennett followed by knocking down a trey to draw Shenandoah to within five 8-13, which brought the Raider Nation alive. The Wolves managed only one bucket to go atop 8-15 which closed out the scoring. For the half Shenandoah was one of nine on threes.
Historically through the season the third stanza is the difference maker in a close game for Shenandoah. Time and time again Coach McCollough has tweaked some component of the game and, when implemented, it changes the entire complexion of the game. Shenandoah got the ball to begin the second half and turned it over seconds later. This miscue opened the door for a run of seven consecutive points on three possessions for the Wolves and the Raiders
found themselves down 8-22. With less than five minutes remaining Shenandoah decided to implement their full court pressure and it paid huge dividends. Suddenly the offense awoke and took off and the Raiders went on a 15-7 run cutting the lead to six 23-29 by quarters end. Here is how it played out. At the 4:05 mark Bennett drove into the teeth of the Wolves for two. Though Bennett missed his next shot Kaden McCollough, perfectly positioned, retrieved the missed and put in back in to make the score 12-22. After a three by Parke Heritage, Bennett scored quickly underneath on an inbounds play. Tanner Goff and Kinsey double team steal led to another score which then led to Bennett landing his second three to close the lead at 19-27 with 1:21 remaining. Working one on one McCollough picked his opponent clean at mid-court and raced in for a layup but it was waved off, so he had to settle by hitting two free-throws. I observed and recalled a few more shots waved off and the Raiders had to settle by inbounding the ball or shooting free-throws…just an observation. Finally, before the sound of the buzzer Kinsey fed Jasper Campbell for a layup which closed the scoring, 23-29, but Shenandoah was back in the game and Ole Mo had finally changed.
Though Kinsey picked his fourth foul forty-nine seconds into the fourth he was not coming out, though he would have if instructed by the Coach McCollough. A steal kept the ever-dangerous Wolves from scoring. On another inbounds play Graddy found an open McCollough for three and thirty seconds later, with 5:10 left, Kinsey found McCollough who nailed a three…Boom Baby…down by four 29-33. Good things were happening. Parke Heritage went up six, however, McCollough nailed both one and bonus still down by four 31-35. Time out Raiders. After the timeout, the Raiders defense caused a five second inbounds turn over. Shenandoah was fouled and found themselves at the line but missed the front end of the bonus. Suddenly like a faucet, the offense was turned off and the end of an era came to a screeching halt as Shenandoah was out scored 2-17 for the remainder of the final four plus agonizing minutes. With the dynasty and playing legacy of these young men are seared in our minds and the inevitable was set in stone Coach McCollough pulled each of his heart broken starters from the court one by one to a thunderous applause from those cheering for Shenandoah.
After the game I listened and took note of Coach McCollough words. In a nutshell these were his sentiments. It was unfortunate timing for the team to have such a poor shooting night (12 of 42 and 4 of 33 from beyond the arc). We got good looks all night, the shots just did not fall and we failed to get over the hump…all year long we hit those shots. He started going down a trail of maybe if he, “would of, should of or could of” scenarios and then he stopped…it just did not happen tonight. He recentered his thoughts on the team and expressed how they brought a lot of enjoyment and entertainment to the school and fan base. Let me interject here many times over the season I heard many fans from the opponents express how good the Raiders were. Then inwardly Coach spoke of the special bond it was to coach his son Kaden and this group of players…there was a slight pause…it has been a fun ride. Coach McCollough was gracious in winning games and in a rare loss giving credit to the other team…CLASS.
Some final thoughts on this atypical night. One more time #4 Jakeb Kinsey scored five points, #10 Jasper Campbell added two, #12 Andrew Bennett had ten points, #21 Kameron Graddy chipped in four and #22 Kaden McCollough closed the books with a dozen. Though held scoreless #33 Michael Howard and #11 Tanner Goff, like all of the team, played their hearts out. By the time this is read the black cloud will have passed over, the sun will have come up and will help shine a new path as you commence and walk forward in life. Cherish these memories…we certainly will. On a personal note, someday, I hope to hear the words…well done…let me say now to all of you…Well done, good and faithful players, you are valued, esteemed and loved by multitudes. Thank you.
With love and respect from the bleachers, Ed Breeden