Benet had a chance to tie the game in the final seconds on Wednesdayat the Hoops for Healing Tournament in Oswego, but Neuqua Valley’sJacob Cushing swatted away Dan Sobolewski’s three-point attempt tosecure a 60-56 win.
It wasn’t a play that is normally in the Wildcats’ arsenal.
“We don’t ever talk about shot blocking,” said Neuqua Valley coachTodd Sutton. “Not ever. That was just a good player making a bigplay.”
Cushing made several big plays. The 6-5 junior didn’t score in thefirst half, but was huge in the second. His three late in the thirdquarter pulled Neuqua Valley to within two points and his three with4:19 to play put the Wildcats ahead for good.
Then came the big block.
“I just kind of let out a big sigh of relief (after the block),” saidNeuqua Valley senior Zachary Lendino.
Benet (2-1) jumped out to a 20-6 lead and the Wildcats spent theentire third quarter clawing back into the game, eventually grabbingthe lead on a jumper from Demond George (nine points) with 6:35 toplay.
Connor Raridon, a 6-4 senior, led Neuqua Valley (3-0) with 17 pointsand 11 rebounds. Lendino added 14 points and Cushing finished with 10.
“We just weren’t able to pull it out,” said Benet coach Gene Heidkamp.“We defended well in the first quarter but that was it. For us to wina game like that we have to play better defensively.”
The Redwings settled for three point shots the majority of the game,shooting 10-for-28 from three. Neuqua Valley was able to make 8-of-17threes but also got to the free throw line, where it shot 16-for-25.
“They shot 25 free throws and we shot five,” said Heidkamp. “It’s hardto win a game like that.
“We need to do a better job of finding a wayto the basket.”
Sobolewski and Colin Bonnett each scored 14 for Benet and JamesDockery added 10 points.