Jaden Greenwood free throws lift Shawnee over Bellefontaine.
SPRINGFIELD — The Shawnee boys basketball team is in the driver’s seat for the Central Buckeye Conference Kenton Trail Division title after an exciting 49-45 home victory over Bellefontaine on Friday night at Shawnee.
Bellefontaine’s Jake Kennedy gave his team the lead at 45-44 on a jumper with 3:12 left. The score stayed that way for almost two minutes, until Shawnee senior guard Jaden Greenwood canned two free tosses with 1:22 to take the lead for good at 46-45. The Braves never trailed after that.
Greenwood converted 5-of-6 free throws in the final period, and scored a team-high 18 points. The performance mirrored Shawnee’s 45-44 win over Bellefontaine on Dec. 19. Greenwood scored 18 points in that game and hit a game-winning free throw.
“We knew coming in that Bellefontaine was going to play us tough and they have gotten a lot better since the first time we played them,” Shawnee head coach Chris McGuire said after the game. “I told my guys that we were going to have to play well and I thought offensively in the first half we looked pretty good. And to Bellefontaine’s credit, they came out in the second half and kind of dictated the pace of the game. It took us awhile to adjust, but our kids really battled and I was really proud of them.”
Shawnee’s student section started chanting “C-B-C” as the seconds ticked down, but McGuire was not buying the idea of clinching a championship just yet.
“I told our guys that we have won nothing,’ McGuire said. “All that we have won is a chance to control our destiny in the division. We have three tough games left in the division, but I think our guys are smart enough to know that our work is not done and we have to continue to get better.”
Those three games are against the bottom three teams in the standings of the Kenton Trail Division: Kenton Ridge, Tippecanoe and Stebbins.
“The first time we played all of those teams the games were tough and went right down the stretch and they want to be the team to knock you off,” McGuire said.
Seth Gray scored 12 points for Shawnee and led his team with six rebounds. He has combined with Greenwood to be a dynamic duo on the season. McGuire likes the different options they give his team.
“They are both so versatile because they can score from the outside and also go inside so they are hard to guard,” McGuire said.
Nathan Bostick came off the bench for Shawnee and scored nine points.
Shawnee had built a six-point first quarter lead at 18-12, but then engineered a 9-2 run to build a 27-14 lead in the second period. However, on the heels of some Shawnee foul trouble, Bellefontaine made a push of their own to cut the lead to 29-23 at the half.
The comeback continued in the second half for Bellefontaine. Behind 17 points in the second and third periods by Tristin Tillman, Bellefontaine took a 33-32 lead with 3:35 remaining in the third period. Shawnee was able to wiggle back to a 38-35 lead at the end of three periods of play, but the teams battled back-and-forth in the final period until Shawnee pulled away from the free-throw line.
Tillman scored a season-high 21 points in the losing cause.
“I was proud of our kids, they played a good basketball team here tonight,” Bellefontaine head coach Henry Stolly said. “We dug ourselves a hole at the beginning, but fought out of that hole. We didn’t shoot it well early but we came back and that says a lot about our team.”
Bellefontaine (8-7, 5-2) is now tied for second place with Tecumseh in the Kenton. The Chieftains will host to Northwestern on Tuesday.
Shawnee (11-5, 6-1) has a week off before playing at Stebbins next Friday.