Grant Bender shines on Hillcrest Senior Night

By Giovanni Coronel
Posted 1/25/23

With the regular season winding down the Ravens honored its seniors when they hosted fellow Superconference member Louisa-Muscatine last Friday. Hoping to get a win in its last home game of the …

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Grant Bender shines on Hillcrest Senior Night


With the regular season winding down the Ravens honored its seniors when they hosted fellow Superconference member Louisa-Muscatine last Friday. Hoping to get a win in its last home game of the regular season, the Falcons played spoiler with a nail biting 47-46 victory over the Ravens on January 20.

Before the game tipped off there was a moment to honor the seniors of Hillcrest Luke Schrock, Jace Rempel, Grant Bender, and Josiah Beachy. The four seniors received flowers, received warm embraces from their teammates, and the Hillcrest head coach said some words for each senior.

“I will remember this group of seniors as good friends, they do a lot together on and off the court, a tight, cohesive group,” Ravens head coach Dwight Gingerich said about his seniors after the game. “They have obviously been our core group these last two years and have meant a lot to our program and to our younger players.”

Fitting for senior night it was the Grant Bender Show in the first quarter for the Ravens. Scoring every point for Hillcrest except for two, Bender went on a tear to begin the game. Before the quarter ended he made a two-point shot giving Bender eight points in the first quarter, to tie the game at 10-10. 

As the second quarter rolled along Hillcrest was able to pull away from Louisa-Muscatine. After the game was knotted up again at 14-14 the Ravens went on a 11-4 run to end the quarter. 

The highlight play of the second quarter was when sophomore Seth Ours stole the ball after hitting a triple to put up another two points off a fast break. This was followed by another triple being made for Hillcrest, this time by Rempel, to give the Ravens a seven point lead going into halftime. 

During halftime anyone watching the game live was invited onto the court to make a shot from three-point range or free-throw range. If someone made the basket they would be rewarded with a large bottle of soda.

Coming out of halftime the Falcons were able to stage a comeback thanks in part to a strong defensive effort. Forcing turnovers at a rapid rate, Louisa-Muscatine was able to go on a 12-4 run to take the lead. 

This was the Ravens lowest scoring quarter, six points, of the game and after Bender made a close range shot before the third quarter ended Hillcrest went into the final frame down by three.  

If the first quarter was the Grant Bender Show then the fourth quarter was the Grant Bender Show: Part Two. Bender opened the final quarter by going on an individual 6-0 run to give the lead back to the Ravens. What made Bender’s play even more impressive this night was him playing while not at 100 percent. 

“Grant had not played after just the first few minutes [against Lone Tree on January 17] after suffering an ankle sprain and then did not practice the next two days,” Gingerich said about the play of Bender against the Falcons. “I thought he showed a lot of energy, determination and guts [on Senior Night]. It was great to see his effort rewarded. 

The Falcons would not go down easy and this was evident after junior Ty Northup went up to attempt a dunk and while he missed the intensity of the game coming down to the final minutes was palpable in the gymnasium.

Louisa-Muscatine was able to take the lead back off of free throws but that lead was short lived with Bender driving to the basket to make a shot of his own. With the crowd coming alive after Bender’s basket Louisa-Muscatine was able to quiet the crowd with a three-pointer.

With under two minutes left in the game Hillcrest sophomore Bryce Bailey secured an offensive rebound and shot the ball right away to give the Ravens a 44-43 lead. 

The Falcons were able to make a shot of its own, but Bender, who scored 10 fourth quarter points, answered back with an outstanding shot close to the basket with defenders draped all over him to give the Ravens back its single point lead. 

With just 20 seconds left Louisa-Muscatine put all the pressure on the Ravens by re-taking the lead with a two-pointer. Taking a timeout Hillcrest was able to plan what would likely be its last play of the game.

Coming out of the timeout the ball was put into Bender’s hands and he drove to the basket but was met by many Falcon defenders so he passed the ball to Bailey. Bailey was wide open and shot the ball with confidence beyond the three-point arc, but it was not meant to be. 

“Grant had the ball in his hands deep in the lane, which is what we wanted, but he drew a swarm and kicked it out to Bryce. I was proud of Bryce for being willing to knock it down in the flow, he had a great look and it was in and out,” Gingerich said about the final play of the game. 

 The Falcons filled the gymnasium with jubilation as they cheered loudly when the time finally expired. With this win Louisa-Muscatine now sits at 9-7 on the season and improves its conference play record to 8-4. 

Hillcrest (9-7) went on the road and faced Pekin (7-8) on January 24. Winning the first matchup between these two teams, 40-32 on January 13, the Ravens aimed for the season sweep against Pekin. 

Next on the docket the Ravens will face a tough test when they travel to battle against the undefeated conference leading WACO Warriors (15-0) on January 27. This will be the second time this month these two teams will be pitted up against each other, with WACO winning the first matchup, 65-46, on January 12.


Hillcrest 44, Louisa-Muscatine 64


 10   15    6   15  --  46


 10     8   16  13  --  37

LOUISA-MUSCATINE SCORING: Ty Northup 23, Xander Bieri 15, Allen Stauffer 5.