ULLIN — The knock against the Shawnee Community Collegew men’s basketball team was that despite a 5-0 record, the Saints had yet to play a quality opponent.Now they have. And, the Saints are still undefeated.Shawnee rallied from a 26-point first half deficit to defeat Wabash Valley, 73-67, in Region 24 play on Wednesday play.
The rally began in the final minutes of the first half. SCC, trailing 39-13, went into a zone defense that produced results. The Saints closed the half on a 13-2 run to pull within 15 points at halftime, 41-26.
“We couldn’t execute whenever they went into a zone,” said Warrior coach Eric Murphy. “That’s something we’re going to have work harder on throughout the season. Right now, if I were another team, I’d play a zone against us.”
The Saints never came out of the zone in the second half, and WVC could not force them out of it. Even three consecutive 3-point field goals by Alex Carr that kept the Warriors up, 55-47 with nine minutes left, didn’t stem the tide.
Unfazed, Shawnee then went on a 15-3 run to take over the game. Three 3-pointers by Kil’Ron Coleman aided by a couple of inside baskets put the Saints up, 62-58, and the foul-prone Warriors were in a jam.
But, they weren’t out of it. A 3-ball by Tyrone Sherman and two free throws from Jalen Packer brought the Warriors back to within one possession, 68-65, with 33.9 seconds remaining. The Saints then hit four of five free throws down the stretch to seal up the win.
Sherman paced Wabash Valley (4-3) with 21 points. Lawrence Kinney had 13, and Brienne Miles 10.
Wabash roared out of the gates, jumping to a 20-5 lead. Kinney had four of the Warriors’ total of 10 treys, and Sherman had 13 in the first half.
“We shot the ball well early on in the game,” Murphy said. So, when Shawnee switched to the zone almost as a last resort, “you’re supposed to shoot them out of the zone, but we couldn’t buy a shot then.”
Feeney and Rontray Chavis fouled out for WVC, and Sherman had four at the close.
WVC begins Great Rivers Athletic Conference play on Saturday at home against Southwestern Illinois. The game begins at 7:30 p.m. at Spencer Sports Center. It’s the first of a four-game home stand.