Defense makes a big difference as Bulldogs move on

Defense makes a big difference as Bulldogs move on

MAHOMET — Chad Benedict admits his team is not built on a run-and-jump, pressure-packed defense.

Instead, the Mahomet-Seymour boys' basketball coach has constructed his defense to be a sagging, lane-clogging unit that stands its ground in the paint and on the perimeter. But any time the Bulldogs can create a little havoc on that side of the ball, they can take advantage and convert in transition.

That proved to be the vital difference in Tuesday night's 64-50 win over Rantoul in a Class 3A Mahomet-Seymour Regional semifinal matchup.

After the 10th-seeded Eagles (8-22) committed just three turnovers in the first half, the second-seeded Bulldogs (20-10) forced seven in the third quarter to turn what was a six-point lead at halftime into a 35-24 advantage with just under four minutes to play in the third.

"We were able to convert some of those turnovers in transition, and that probably allowed us to get after them a little bit," Benedict said. "We're not a heat-em-up team that's going to come out and press you all over the court. That's just not who we are. Our kids do take pride in their defense, and we had to work hard for long stretches of time, and that's a big credit to (Rantoul coach Brett Frerichs) and his coaching staff to organize those kids and put them in that situation."

Senior Meech Hudson sparked Rantoul with 28 points, making 6 of 14 three-pointers.

Cory Noe scored a game-high 32 points for M-S.

It is the third consecutive year the Bulldogs ended Rantoul's season at the regional level.

"It was just a couple possessions the last two years. It could've just as easily been us that won two in a row," Frerichs said. "This game they were seeded higher, and they took advantage of it. They looked like they were the more experienced team, and they were the more experienced team."