Jaden Greenwood hits game-winner to lift Shawnee to its second sectional title in three years.
SPRINGFIELD — The Shawnee Braves survived a scare from Meadowdale on Saturday night and earned their second sectional title in three years with a 54-51 win. Afterwards they should have hoisted Seth Gray and Jaden Greenwood on their shoulders, after the duo put the team on their backs.
Gray scored all of his team’s ten first quarter points, converted 12 free throws in the game, and poured in 15 second half points on his way to a game-high 26 points. The smaller Lions struggled with Gray’s quickness and agility inside, which Shawnee head coach Chris McGuire planned for.
“We figured that they were going to have trouble guarding him, they have a guard-oriented team and we thought that we could pound it inside,” McGuire said. “They were taking Jaden out of it a little and it really opened up some looks for Seth and a good job by our guys to look for him.”
Greenwood hit a couple of three-pointers in the second period to get going after scoring nothing in the first. The senior guard scored twelve second-half points to finish with 18. None were bigger than his 25-footer from the top of the key with 18 seconds remaining to give Shawnee a 53-51 lead.
McGuire knows he can count on Greenwood – the school’s all-time leading scorer – to come up big when they need him.
“We told them that we had to get good movement on that last play and if they got a good look to take it,” McGuire said. “That’s what Jaden does. He wants that big shot and I’m as comfortable as can be with him taking the shot.”
Meadowdale shot the ball well in the first quarter and stunned the Shawnee faithful by building up a 17-10 first quarter advantage. The pace of the game slowed a little in the second period as Shawnee clamped down with the defense a little more. Meadowdale held Gray to just one point in the quarter, but gave up eight points to Greenwood and Zach Avery from the outside. Shawnee managed to score the final six points of the first half and trailed 22-19 at halftime.
The Lions came out aggressively in the third period and built a 27-20 advantage with possession and a chance to increase the lead midway through the period, but Shawnee was able to get a couple of stops and go on an 18-6 run to lead 38-33 after three quarters.
“They came out in the second half and kind of punched us in the mouth,” McGuire said. “We said we had to attack more and get to the line because we thought they would foul us and we felt we did a good job doing that.”
In the fourth period, with the exception of one free throw Andrew Tincher, all of the Shawnee scoring came from Gray and Greenwood.
Meadowdale had balanced scoring. Kevon Huguely being the only Lion in double figures with 11 points. Four of his teammates each contributed nine points.
“It feels great, it never gets old getting here”, said McGuire, “This is my fourth time in ten years being here, and this group of boys accomplished their two goals. They wanted to win the conference and the sectionals and to see them accomplish both is great to see.”
The Braves advance to play Franklin in the District finals on Friday at the University of Dayton Arena. The highly-publicized Wildcats boasts the state’s best player in Duke-bound Luke Kennard.
“We haven’t really focused a whole lot on them and they pose a lot of problems for us,” McGuire said. “We know they have Kennard and they have a lot of shooters around him. We know we have a big challenge and are looking forward to going up against them and see what happens.”