Leading the way: Bulldogs advance to regional title game

The Mahomet-Seymour boys' basketball team defeated Mattoon in its final regular season game last Friday, then knocked off Rantoul in the IHSA Class 3A Mahomet-Seymour Regional semifinals on Tuesday.

For the third straight season, the Bulldogs have ended the Eagles' season in regional action — once at Rantoul, once at Centennial and now at home.

Coach Chad Benedict told his players before the game in order to avoid a letdown, they had to be ready to put games away in the regional no matter which team they faced.

The Bulldogs did that Tuesday by finishing out the end of the third and fourth quarters with runs that stretched the lead to double digits.

Mahomet-Seymour stretched a one-point lead to seven points at halftime with a score of 27-20.

In the middle of the third quarter, Mahomet-Seymour went on an 8-2 run when Noe and Noah Benedict each assisted Grant Coleman underneath, and Noe dished the ball to Holt Campion to stretch the lead to nine, 33-24, with 4:07 left on the clock.

"We shared the ball well and were able to get good looks and were able to match them offensively," Chad Benedict said.

Noe's free throws and a Coleman free throw extended the lead to 40-30 at the end of the third period.

In the middle of the fourth quarter, Rantoul cut the lead to five points, 45-40, with 4:25 left in the game when Jametriel Hudson, who finished with 28 points, drove to the hoop for two.

From there, the Bulldogs pulled away.

"Defensively, we got enough stops and we made timely shots when we needed them," Chad Benedict said.

Noah Benedict scored in the lane, and Coleman had a rebound, which stretched the lead 50-42.

Noah Benedict finished with a game-high 14 rebounds and five assists to go along with two steals and two points.

"Noah kept us organized, and we moved well off the ball," Chad Benedict said.

Campion again scored down low, and Coleman hit a three-pointer with two minutes left to give the Bulldogs a 55-42 lead.

Coleman totaled 15 points and six rebounds.

Brooks Coetzee made three of four free throws and Noe sunk four of four down the stretch to turn the lead into the eventual 64-50 final score.

Noe finished with a game-high 32 points, two assists and two steals. Coetzee added six points, two rebounds and two blocks.

Dawson Finch, Josh Johnson, Jordan Veldman and Coetzee came off the bench to help the Bulldogs win. Veldman scored a point, and Finch collected two rebounds.

"I thought the bench really contributed tonight," Chad Benedict said.

The Bulldogs play the winner of Wednesday's Mount Zion-Urbana game in the regional championship game at 7 p.m. tonight at home.


Last Friday, the Bulldogs defeated Mattoon 67-56 to help celebrate senior night at Mahomet.

"To have eight seniors make it to this point says a great deal about them," Chad Benedict said. "We are proud of the commitment they have made, the adversity they have handled and the young men that they are.

"They set an example for our younger players to look up to and leave a legacy that raises the bar for future players. The thing that I am proudest of is that they are good people."

As part of senior night, the Bulldogs wore light blue socks to honor classmate Jacob Hamilton, who died in a car accident in May. Hamilton was a varsity soccer player and the basketball manager last season.

"Jacob is a part of this senior class," Chad Benedict said. "The socks were a special way to remember Jacob on a night that was meant for all seniors to be honored."

The student section also wore light blue during the game, in honor of Hamilton.

In the game, the Bulldogs jumped out to an 11-5 lead on a Coleman three-pointer with about five minutes left in the first quarter.

The Green Wave took the lead 15-11 with back-to-back three pointers, then extended that lead to 18-14 to end the first quarter.

In the second quarter, Coleman hit a mid-range jumper to take back the lead 23-21.

From the six-minute mark to the two-minute mark, the teams were tied or the lead changed hands five times.

Noah Benedict's bucket and Coleman's three kept the lead, and Noe scored the last four Bulldog points to take a 34-31 halftime lead.

"We talked at halftime about some defensive adjustments we wanted to make," Chad Benedict said. "The kids really did a great job of executing the adjustments we wanted to make.

"Mattoon had a couple of players out and they really stepped up and made plays."

The Bulldogs went on a 9-2 run to start the third quarter and didn't look back.

Noah Benedict scored two straight baskets and assisted Campion for another score, and Noe hit a three-pointer from the corner to give the Bulldogs a 52-36 lead.

"We held our own and were able to get the defensive stops that we needed to in order to pull away," Chad Benedict said. "I thought we moved the ball really well and found the open man."

The sharing of the ball culminated in 19 assists.

Mahomet-Seymour finished seven of 15 from behind the arc, and 29 of 46 from the field.

Noe finished with 21 points, five rebounds and five assists, and Coleman followed with 16 points and three assists.

Noah Benedict tallied 12 points, five rebounds and seven assists, and Campion recorded six points and two rebounds. Josh Johnson and Finch scored four and three points, respectively, and Coetzee added two points, while Veldman dished out two assists.


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