JOHN CURTIS - Daily Union Sports Editor
SHELBYVILLE, IL. —
Meridian came into Shelbyville on Tuesday for a conference contest after knocking off Monticello. Meridian was averaging about 55 points a game, six more than the Rams. But the Rams stood that stat on its head early, shooting 54% in the 1st half and 43% from the arc. Shelby built a 16-point lead and held on to win by double digits, 60-50.
Ram go-to guy, 6-7 center Brody Bence, was red hot, shooting the ball outside, and running the floor. He scored 18 points in the 1st half, including a trio of 3-pointers. He finished with 10 buckets and 24 points, including one conventional 3-point play. He made 10-of-11 shots from the floor for 91%, including 3-of-3 from the arc. Bence just missed a double-double with a team-high eight boards. He also had three blocked shots.
After Meridian opened the scoring, point guard Jake Keown pushed the ball and Bence ran the floor, scoring at the dish in transition. Meridian’s big man, Dylan Smith scored inside, but Keown splashed a base line turn around jumper for the 4-4 tie. Meridian missed and Bence scored again in transition on a base line jumper. Meridian scored off a Ram turnover and then the six Ram 3-pointers got a down payment.
Darin Breeden spotted up at the corner and sank a trey. 9-6. Breeden then drove the base line for two with 3:00 left in the 1st, 11-8. Breeden made it 12-8, splitting a pair at the line, then scored in transition on a stop and pop. Breeden had scored the last eight points for the Rams.
Breeden finished the game with 17 points, shooting 55% from the floor.
, making 4-of-7 at the line and a three, and grabbing six boards.
With the score 14-10 Rams and 46 seconds left in the 1st, Bence went to the corner and connected on a transition three. Meridian answered with a two, then Bence came right back down in transition and buried another 3 from the key to end the 1st, 20-12.
The Rams kept the roll going to start the 2nd. Tucker Schwengel drove and was hammered. He made both free throws. Meridian turned the ball over and Keown tried a trey. It came off the Ram and Bence went up high for the board. He was pushed off balance, but put the ball up on the rim for a bucket and the foul. He converted the 3-point play and Shelby was up 13 inside the first minute of the 2nd, 25-12.
Almost 3:00 later, Luke McConnell rebounded a missed three and got it to Keown, who buried his own triple. That capped a 19-4 Ram run and put Shelby up 16, 28-12 with 4:10 left in the half.
From that point, Ram unforced turnovers kept Meridian alive and the Hawks pushed back offensively to make a game of it. Smith scored inside and converted a 3-point play to stop the Ram run. Jacob Brown then hit a 3-pointer, bringing a Ram time-out. Meridian put on a press, but the Rams broke it and Bence scored on a lay-up again in transition, 30-18. Beasley answered with a trey and it was just a 9-point Ram lead, 30-21.
Nate Standerfer answered with his own triple. Bence then blocked a shot. Meridian got the ball on a tie-up, but Bence blocked another shot. In transition, Bence buried another 3 from the key to re-establish a 15-point lead, 36-21. Meridian then scored six straight points to finish the half and get back within ten points of the Rams, 36-27.
The Ram offense ground to a halt in the 3rd period, like it has before. The only consolation was the Rams limited the Hawks, as well. Bence opened the 2nd half scoring in the post. After Meridian scored twice, Bence once again scored in transition with a lay-up, 40-31. Meridian got it to a 7-point deficit, then Keown found Breeden underneath for a bucket and a foul. He converted for a 10-point Ram lead, 43-33.
Smith scored for the Hawks, but the Ram transition game kept producing. Breeden scored on a stop and pop with 1:50 in the 3rd, 45-35. Wild floor play ensued. A Ram defensive stop was followed by a Hawk block and a loose ball. The ball was tapped to mid-court and Breeden dove on it and called time-out. The Rams were buying several minutes without Bence on the floor and it paid off.
Bence came in to start the 4th. Smith began to assert himself inside for the Hawks. He go to the line and made both shots. He got to the line again and made both shots, cutting the Ram lead to six points, 45-39. A Ram turnover could have been costly, but Tucker Schwengel stole the ball and started the break. Keown got the ball to Standerfer and he was fouled at the rim. He made both shots to stop the Hawk run.
Smith got to the line again and split a pair. Bence came through with a stop and pop two, 49-40. Spencer Shadwell became a factor in the 4th. He got an offensive rebound and was fouled. He made both ends of a 1-and-1 for a 51-40 Ram lead. The last 5:00 looked to be a free throw contest. Meridian scored, then the Rams missed two free throws. Meridian made two free throws to cut it to a 7-point Ram lead, 51-44.
A Ram turnover was saved by Breeden and Shadwell hit a short bank shot, 53-44. Smith scored, but didn’t convert the 3-point play. Breeden was fouled in transition and made both foul shots. With just over 2:00 left, Shadwell cut to the bucket and missed, but Breeden flashed in, grabbed the rebound, performed a pirouette in front of the rim and dropped in the two, giving Shelby an 11-point lead and bringing a Hawk time-out, 57-46.
After a Hawk 3 miss, the Rams ran clock. A travel gave the ball to Meridian. Keown poked the ball away and Shadwell was fouled in transition. He sank both foul shots for a 13-point Ram lead with a minute to play, 59-46. Meridian scored off a Ram turnover, called time-out and set up their press. Keown had the ball in his hands and was fouled. He split a pair of free throws with 19 seconds left, 60-48. Bence had a final block at the Hawk end. The Hawks got it back and scored and the buzzer sounded, 60-50 Rams.
Shelbyville 60, Meridian 50
Ram stats: Bence 24 (7-2s, 3-3 pt FGs, 1/1 FTs), Breeden 17 (5-2s, 1-3 pt FGs, 4/7 FTs), Keown 6 (1-2, 1-3 pt FGs, 1/2 FTs), Shadwell 6 (FG, 4/4 FTs), Standerfer 5 (1-3 pt FG, 2/4 FTs), Schwengel 2 (2/2 FTs). Team FGs 20. 3-Pointers: 6 (Bence 3, Breeden, Standerfer, Keown). Team FTs 14-of-20.
Meridian stats: Smith 18 (6 FGs, 6/8 FTs), Barnes 12 (6 FGs), Snarski 8 (3 FGs, 2/3 FTs), Beasley 5 (1-3 pt FG, 2/2 FTs), Renfro 4 (2 FGs, 0/1 FTs), Brown 3 (FG). Team FGs 19. 3-Pointers: 2 (Beasley, Brown). Team FTs 10-of-14.
Shelbyville JV had a huge comeback in the prelim. Down 11 to start the 4th, 40-29, the Rams put on a 23-9 run to win by just three points, 53-49.
Guard Tice Robinson scored ll seven of his points in the 4th, making a deuce and a trey and two free throws. Devin Peterson scored 6 of his 15 in the 4th with two free throws and a pair of twos. Center Cwenton Williams scored 5 of his 16 in the 4th with a deuce and 3-of-4 at the line. Sheldon Meyer got on the board with a triple in the 4th and Brett Peifer had a deuce in the 4th.
Shelbyville 52, Meridian 49
Ram stats: C. Williams 16 (5-2s, 1-3 pt FGs, 3/6 FTs), Peterson 15 (5-2s, 1-3 pt FGs, 2/2 FTs), Robinson 7 (1-2, 1-3 pt FGs, 2/2 FTs), McConnell 5 (2 FGs, 1/2 FTs), Peifer 4 (2 FGs), Meyer 3 (FG), Hendryx 2 (2/2 FTs). Team FGs 19. 3-Pointers: 4 (Peterson, C. Williams, Robinson, Meyer). Team FTs 10-of-14.
Meridian stats: Baker 11 (1-2, 3-3 pt FGs), Brown 10 (2-2s, 1-3 pt FGs, 3/3 FTs), Mathias 10 (5 FGs), Fornwalt 6 (2-3 pt FGs), Collier 6 (3 FGs, 0/2 FTs), Carnahan 4 (2 FGs), Renfro 2 (FG). Team FGs 20. 3-Pointers: 6 (Baker 3, Fornwalt 2, Brown). Team FTs 3-of-5.