At the intersection of a comeback and a rally to counter came the play that devolved into a tangle of limbs.
As Shenandoah forward Lane Young caught the ball in the post, the smaller Cowan defender behind him fell to the ground. Young turned, flipped the ball through the hoop as hands grabbed at his legs and went down as the whistle blew.
“I didn’t know what was going on,” said Young, who finished with 14 points and 13 rebounds. “I didn’t know if they were going to call a foul on me.”
It turned out he’d drawn the foul, and the ensuing free throw tied Friday’s game against the Blackhawks. That was the last time Cowan led, and moments later, Raiders guard Kyle Demick turned a block into a fastbreak layup to propel Shenandoah to a 49-45 victory on its home court.
The Raiders (3-4) had found themselves in a range of situations, at one point leading by 13 and trailing by five soon after, but they had enough to end the Blackhawks’ three-game winning streak.
And the win was much closer because of a stretch just after halftime.
“We come out in the third, I thought, and we did a real good job of executing,” Shenandoah coach Aaron Cain said. “We got a nice lead there, and I thought we kind of coasted a little bit. It wasn’t the recipe for us to win games down the road, but it worked tonight.”
The Raiders built the double-digit lead with a defense that pressured and trapped the Blackhawks’ (3-5) perimeter-oriented attack. Then Cowan forward Luke Miller, who sat for much of the first half, got going.
The sophomore scored nine of his 13 points during the 18-0 run, which ended with a pull-up Miller 3-point shot to give Cowan a 39-34 lead. After that, the Raiders reasserted their size advantage with Young and Terick Warner (6-foot-3).
Blackhawks coach Mike King conceded the hosts caused problems for his smaller team, but he pointed to one factor as key in the loss.
“At the end of the day, we just didn’t hit enough shots,” King said. “During that stretch where we cut that lead, we made a few shots and made some really smart passes, and then we took wide-open shots that we hit. The rest of the time, it didn’t seem like we could get the ball to go in the hole.”
All told, the Blackhawks shot 30 percent from the field and 13 percent on 3-point attempts, which accounted for well over half their shots.
Coming down the stretch, Shenandoah maintained a thin lead, twice letting the advantage slip to one possession. Neither team could connect on many free throws, and Cowan did itself no favors with a late technical foul, Miller’s fifth, and an intentional foul on what looked like a Shenandoah turnover.
Those moments stood in contrast to the way the Raiders, who have only two seniors, took the brunt of a potentially game-turning swing, and turned it right back around.
“I got a group in there, they just kept a lot of discipline,” Cain said.