Benet had a chance to tie the game in the final seconds on Wednesday at the Hoops for Healing Tournament in Oswego, but Neuqua Valley’s Jacob Cushing swatted away Dan Sobolewski’s three-point attempt to secure 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 coach Todd Sutton. “Not ever. That was just a good player making a big play.”
Cushing made several big plays. The 6-5 junior didn’t score in the first half, but was huge in the second. His three late in the third quarter pulled Neuqua Valley to within two points and his three with 4:19 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),” said Neuqua Valley senior Zachary Lendino.
Benet (2-1) jumped out to a 20-6 lead and the Wildcats spent the entire third quarter clawing back into the game, eventually grabbing the lead on a jumper from Demond George (nine points) with 6:35 to play.
Connor Raridon, a 6-4 senior, led Neuqua Valley (3-0) with 17 points and 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 win a 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-17 threes 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 hard to win a game like that.
“We need to do a better job of finding a way to the basket.”
Sobolewski and Colin Bonnett each scored 14 for Benet and James Dockery added 10 points.