Ravens clinch sixth seed in Heart with senior night win over Central Methodist

MBB_CMU_R
Vic McDowell, The Circuit

Hitting the go-ahead 3-pointer is one way to go out on senior night, and that’s exactly how senior Shawn Fleming Jr. ended his final game at the Ralph Nolan Gymnasium.

Fleming’s three was a part of a 14-5 run Benedictine used to over take Central Methodist for the
75-73 victory.

Trailing 72-70 with 1:22 remaining, junior Connor Fleming found Fleming Jr. wide open.

Junior VeQuan Clark drives to the hoop during the first half against Central Methodist. Photo by Randy Speer.
Junior VeQuan Clark drives to the hoop during the first half against Central Methodist. Photo by Randy Speer.

Fleming Jr splashed the open 3-pointer, his 127th of his career, to give the Ravens a 73-72 lead.

A pair of free threes by junior Jake Schannuth push the lead to 75-72 with three seconds remaining.

Central Methodist’s Rob Lee was fouled out of the inbound by Schannuth with one second remaining. Lee hit the front of the double bonus, then intentionally misses the second, but the Eagles couldn’t tap in the miss to send the game into over time.

Fleming Jr. put on a show for his final game in the Ralph Nolan. He finished with 19 points and a pair of big plays late in the game.

“Shawn Fleming Jr. hit big shots down the stretch and handled the ball to make plays for people,” Moody said.

Fleming Jr. nabbed a steal with 2:44 left that turned into free throws for freshman Thomas O’Connor to cut the Central Methodist lead to 70-67. The Eagles answered with a pair of free throws on their next possession.

O’Connor once again cut the lead to 72-70 with an open 3-pointer with 2:03 remaining off an assist by Fleming. O’Connor finished with 14 points on the night.

“I want to give John Harris Jr. and Shawn Fleming Jr. a ton of credit for everything they’ve accomplished here,” he said. “This is their 80th win in four years here.”

Trailing six with a 10 minutes remaining, Benedictine (15-13, 9-13 Heart) head coach Ryan Moody called a timeout to readjust the game plan.

“We said, ‘Listen we have to spread the floor and drive it. They’re still sucking in. Bomb in threes. You guys are confident, be confident. You guys can all makes shots, go make them,’” Moody said. “It worked. The guys executed. They drove. They shared it. We didn’t have one guy making all the plays.”

In addition to making shots down the stretch, the Ravens amped up their defensive efforts.

“We made shots, but I think the difference was our defense. I thought we were able to hold them down the stretch to tough shots,” Moody said. “They made a couple. But even on the last possession, Vequan was isolated one-on-one and makes the kid take a contested sidewinder shot.”

Benedictine and Central Methodist (15-15, 9-13) played it close in the first half with 11 different lead changes and eight ties before the Ravens stretched it out to a four-point lead at halftime, 37-33.

The Ravens will play No. 3 seed William Penn in the second round of the Heart Conference Tournament.

The Statesmen swept their season series with Benedictine.

In their first match-up, No. 10 William Penn beat the Ravens 81-68. All five Statesmen starters scored in the double figures.

During the second game, Benedictine’s comeback attempt fell short in the final minutes.

The Ravens tied the game at 70 with 1:59 remaining. William Penn then outscored the Ravens 12-7 securing a 82-77 win.

Benedictine hit 12 3-pointers in attempt to upset William Penn with O’Connor leading the way with four 3-pointers and 22 points.

The Statesmen host Benedictine at 7 p.m. Wednesday March 2.