Veteran duo leads M-S boys' basketball into first season of Apollo action

It is no secret that the Mahomet-Seymour boys' basketball team enters the 2017-18 season with high expectations.

The Bulldogs returned two of the area's top players in Cory Noe and Noah Benedict from a team that finished 22-9.

But as he does every year, Chad Benedict — in his 12th season as head coach — emphasizes effort-based goals versus performance-based goals.

"If this team will follow those that came before them and fall in love with just getting better one day at a time, then we can be good," Chad Benedict said. "We know that there is a certain expectation for this group. We are not going to run from that. We want to embrace it. We just need to remember what made those groups so successful before this one and try not to be something we are not."

Cory Noe returns as the Bulldogs' top scorer with an average of 19.7 points per game.

Last season, he finished eighth in The News-Gazette area in scoring and made 53 three-pointers.

He shot 45.4 percent from the field and 83.9 from the free throw line.

He averaged 6.5 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game.

Noah Benedict's balanced play and inside-outside game alsomade him difficult to guard last season.

He finished with 32 three-pointers and averaged 5.9 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game.

More than scoring and rebounding though, Coach Benedict is looking for leadership from Cory Noe and Noah Benedict, and the ability to make teammates better.

"More than anything we want leadership," said Chad Benedict, "and honestly we are already seeing it.

"They have done a good job so far working with our younger players. All of our seniors have done that. It has been fun to watch thus far.

What the Bulldogs don't have is size in the post.

To make up for lack of height in the frontcourt, Bulldogs will utilize their versatility and depth.

Chad Benedict will be able to choose from a variety of starting lineups and experiment with multiple players who can push the ball and apply three-quarter court or full- court pressure when advantageous.

"We feel like you are going to see several players step up and shine," said Chad Benedict. "This team will not just be the Cory and Noah show.

"If people make the mistake of assuming that, they are going to be very surprised at what our team will be able to do. We are not taking anything away from those two because they haveworked hard too, really hard. We just feel like we have another great group of kids from top to bottom."

It is almost a given that a Chad Benedict team will hustle and play strong team defense, which has been the focus for the early weeks of practice.

But this year, like last season, his team also will have to be a good rebounding team.

"Our defensive philosophy has always been one of team," Chad Benedict said. "We will figure out a way. We played against some skilled big kids this summer and did OK. We think our defense will adjust game to game."

For this team to win with consistency, other players will have to play key roles, sometimes multiple roles, whether starting or coming off the bench.

"It is natural for everyone to look at Cory and Noah because of their experience," said Chad Benedict. "However, we are really excited to see what our other players are going to do. They have worked hard and put in a lot of time."

M-S won the Corn Belt Conference title with an 11-1 record in its last year in the league.

This season, like all Bulldog sports, the basketball team will be starting with a blank slate in the Apollo Conference.

Chad Benedict has been preparing for conference play in the same way as in the past, though his scouting schedule may look a little different.

The Bulldogs entered the Lincoln Classic Thanksgiving Tournament this week.

Noe and Noah Benedict will be looking to again earn all-tournament team honors.

Last season, Noe scored a total of 93 points in five tourney games.

***

In Monday's opener, Noe hit a game-high 21 points in a 53-50 win over Cahokia. Teammate Grant Coleman added 12 points. Noah Benedict scored eight points.

Noe grabbed five rebounds and Benedict handed out five assists. The Bulldogs drained 10 of 13 free throws, with Noe sinking nine of 10.

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