Wins put Bulldogs on top of Corn Belt

By JASON BROWN
Mahomet Citizen sportswriter

In a blowout and a barnburner, Mahomet-Seymour boys’ basketball team picked up two Corn Belt wins to top the conference with a 7-1 record. 

Last Tuesday’s game against Prairie Central was the blowout. Friday’s game against Normal University High School was the barnburner.

Against Normal U-High in the Coaches vs. Cancer game, the student section and crowd, wearing pink, were treated to an exciting finish to regulation and an overtime period.

With just more than six minutes left in the second quarter, the Bulldogs fell behind 24-13 and went into halftime trailing 29-20.

The Bulldogs mounted a comeback in the middle of the third when Blake Lester scored on a put-back basket and Nick Hermann hit a three-pointer from the top of the key to cut the lead to 33-31 with 3:56 left in the quarter.

Cory Noe hit a corner 3-pointer to take the lead, but U-High answered with two baskets to take back the lead 37-34.

Bradley Hamilton, who started the quarter off with a basket, ended the third with a three-pointer to tie the game at 37.

The fourth quarter was back-and-forth with several lead chances.

Hamilton made two threes to retake the lead twice, and Hermann hit a shot underneath to retake the lead.

But when M-S scored, the Pioneers answered.

A Hamilton layup with 1:32 left in the game again retook the lead 47-46.

Hamilton finished with a team-high 16 points and collected four assists, three rebounds and three steals.

“He has been really good on both ends of the floor,” said Coach Chad Benedict. “He takes the ball out of bounds for us, and he does a great job of reading the options on out-of-bound plays to find the open man.”

The Bulldogs stretched the lead to three points when CJ Anderson hit a pair of free throws with 45 seconds left in regulation.

The Bulldogs’ defense held off the Pioneers until U-High’s Keondre Schumacher was fouled with seconds left.

The only chance for U-High was for Schumacher to make the first free throw and purposely miss the second for a change for a rebound put-back. 

And that was exactly what happened. 

Pioneer Myles Aldridge grabbed the rebound and tossed it up as the buzzer sounded to tie the game at 49.

In overtime, the Bulldogs struck first when Noe hit another corner three-pointer with 3:42 left. 

“Cory’s three in the overtime was a result of good screens by Anderson and Herrmann,” said Benedict. “Cory setting up the cut to get open, and Bradley reading the defense to get Cory the ball.”

M-S’s defense locked in and kept the Pioneers from scoring until 27 seconds left in overtime.

With 9.4 second left, Noe hit two free throws to take a 45-41 lead.

U-High found itself in the same predicament as regulation, down three with the ball, but Schumacher missed a long three-pointer and M-S rebounded.

To seal the game, Anderson hit his second free throw to stretch the lead to the final score of 55-51, causing the pinked-clothed students and fans to storm the floor to celebrate.

“We would like to thank the community for the fantastic support of Coaches vs. Cancer,” said Benedict. Proceeds from the evening’s games—which included girls’ games as well—went to fund cancer research.

Noe finished with 14 points, a team-high seven rebounds and three steals, and Anderson added a game-high eight rebounds, three assists, two steals and seven points.

“After the first quarter, our defense was pretty good,” said Benedict. “U-High is very hard to guard. They have so many weapons, and they run good stuff. As the game went on, our kids really got locked in defensively and rotated extremely well. Anderson was really good in PNR defensive situations.”

Hermann tallied eight points and two steals, and Lester and Noah Benedict each added five points.

In the blowout game against Prairie Central, the Bulldogs started a 15-0 run with 2:40 left in the second quarter and ended with 4:26 left in the third quarter for a 41-15 lead.

The Bulldogs held on to the lead for the eventual 52-33 win.

Hamilton scored a career and game-high 18 points and added four rebounds and two steals.

Noe followed with 11 points and three rebounds, and Noah Benedict hit double digits with 10 points. 

Anderson and Hermann had five rebounds each, and Anderson added six points.

Lester scored five points and dished out two assists, and Holt Campion and Grant Coleman added three rebounds each.

“We have been really good in practice,” said Benedict. “We are shooting the ball better now. We have several tough games left that will prepare us for the post season. The way the conference race is shaking out, our remaining games will be big.  We like that because it helps establish a mindset heading into the post season.”

The wins improved the Bulldogs’ record to 15-8 overall.

 

M-S is scheduled for two more Corn Belt Conference games when the team travels to Stanford to face Olympia High School Friday and to Normal for a rematch against University High School Tuesday.

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