GREENFIELD — A search of the stat sheet revealed no negatives for Shenandoah in its Regional 11 semifinal game against Covenant Christian.
The second-ranked Raiders shot the ball well, defended very well, were dominant on the glass and rolled to an 82-52 whipping of seventh-ranked Covenant Christian on Saturday afternoon.
Shenandoah (25-3) will look to repeat its 2019 regional championship when it faces fifth-ranked Parke Heritage (25-3) in the title game at 8 p.m.
After a close first quarter, the Raiders gained momentum in the second period and maintained that level of play throughout the remainder of the contest.
“We got rolling pretty good,” Shenandoah coach Dave McCollough said. “I thought handling the pressure was key, and I thought we did a good job with their pressure.”
The Raiders trailed 14-13 after the first period before Andrew Bennett hit a 3-point basket to start the second. The Warriors tied the game at 16 and again at 19 before Michael Howard put Shenandoah up for good with a trey of his own for a 22-19 lead. That started a 10-0 Raiders run to get the lead to double digits before settling for a 33-26 halftime advantage while committing just three first-half turnovers against the Covenant Christian (22-5) pressure.
Defensively, the Raiders shut down and frustrated the top two scorers for the Warriors. Trey Flatt came in averaging 17 points and was held to five —all in the first half — before he fouled out early in the fourth quarter. Brock Buckley — who averages 13 points —scored just six with just one field goal.
Jakeb Kinsey led that defensive effort, denying Flatt open looks from deep as well as penetration opportunities.
“I love it. It’s always my goal to guard the best player on the other team and hold them below their average,” Kinsey said. “It was a lot of fun, and the coaches trust me to guard the best player, which I love, and that means a lot.”
Kinsey was also part of yet another balanced offensive attack for the Raiders with 13 points as all five starters scored in double figures.
“We shot the ball well and found people,” McCollough said. “We started a little slow, but (Covenant Christian) shot the bell well early and cooled off considerably after that. Maybe because of our defense.”
A pair of free throws by Bryan Lomax to open the third cut the Shenandoah lead to five points, but Kameron Graddy answered to start a 12-4 run, which was capped by a 3-point basket from Kaden McCollough for a 45-32 lead. The Warriors got no closer than nine the rest of the way.
Bennett beat the third-quarter buzzer with a 3-ball to take the lead to 20 at 58-38.
Shenandoah outscored Covenant Christian 25-12 in the third quarter and 49-26 in the second half.
Graddy was a force and led a complete domination in the rebounds department for the Raiders. He scored 17 points and grabbed 12 rebounds as Shenandoah outrebounded Covenant Christian 30-6, limiting the Warriors to just one offensive rebound, which came late in the fourth quarter.
“Rebounding was important, and we rebounded like it was important,” McCollough said. “If you defend a little bit and you rebound a little bit, that sure helps your cause.”
So does shooting the ball well, which the Raiders did to the tune of 31-of-44 from the floor, including eight made 3-point shots. Bennett matched Graddy and Lomax for game-high honors with 17 points with McCollough scoring 16 and Howard adding 15.
Kinsey also led all players with five assists while Graddy and McCollough each had 4.
Coach McCollough hopes his players saved some made baskets for tonight against the Wolves, who defeated Triton Central 47-30 in the first semifinal.
“We played two games in one day in December,” he said, referring to the Hall of Fame Classic. “In the second game, you could tell. But, at that time, I don’t think we were in very good shape. We were just getting Andrew back. We missed the first two weeks of the season. We just weren’t in very good shape. I think we’re in much better shape now.”
“Coach always has us ready to go,” Kinsey said. “We haven’t talked much about Parke Heritage, but he’ll have something for us, and we’ll be ready for them.”