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Watch now: No. 10 Meridian boys stop a late comeback from Shelbyville to stay on top of the CIC

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MACON — For three quarters in Friday's meeting of Central Illinois Conference rivals Shelbyville and Meridian, it was a back and forth battle between the Hawks' Graham Meisenhelter and the Rams' Kade Kull. 

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Meridian Graham Meisenhelter (22) goes up in the second quarter against Shelbyville. to see a video about the event.

Both players finished with 22 points each but Shelbyville ran out of gas in the fourth quarter as Meridian won 54-47.

The Hawks (8-2), the No. 10 team in Class 1A in the most recent AP poll, remain on top of the CIC conference with a 5-0 mark. They are now ahead of Tuscola, which was handed its first CIC loss on Friday, 65-58, to Warrensburg-Latham. 

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Meridian Drew Hurelbrink (14) goes up in the second quarter against Shelbyville. to see a video about the event.

Thanks to six first-quarter points by Meridian's Drew Hurelbrink and nine from Meisenhelter, Meridian took a 19-13 into the second quarter. The Hawks went on a 10-0 run to lead 23-13 with 5:03 left in the half.  

Shelbyville responded with back-to-back 3-pointers by Braden Nichols as the game quickly tightened. Kull had 14 first-half points as Meridian clung to a one-point lead, 28-27, at intermission. 

"Shelbyville is a very improved team and we are young with juniors and sophomores," Meridian coach Shannon Houser said. "We have to understand that there are 32 minutes in the game and play all 32 minutes hard."

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Shelbyville Kade Kull (30) heads to the basket in the third quarter against Meridian. to see a video about the event.

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Meisenhelter and Kull traded baskets in the third quarter but a 3-pointer from Meridian's Riley Day and a bucket from Lucas Clapp had the Hawks up 45-38 after three quarters. In the fourth, the Rams couldn't trim down Meridian's lead as both teams scored nine points each in the final period. 

"Graham is our go-to guy and he's one of those players that hates to lose and he's not going to let anyone one-up him," Houser said. 

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Meridian Grant Meisenhelter (23) is congratulated by Meridian head coach Shannon Houser goes up in the second quarter against Shelbyville. to see a video about the event.

Meridian had fouls to give as the clock entered the final minute and strategic fouling from the Hawks disrupted the Rams from building any type of offensive momentum. 

"I knew we had fouls to give so we let them dribble around and then we would foul. I think it helped," Houser said. "I'm really impressed with the way (Shelbyville) was running their offense and they have some good shooters. I didn't think they could handle us on the inside and that's why we went on the inside quite a bit."

Along with Meisenhelter's 22, Hurelbrink finished with 15 points and Grant Meisenhelter added nine. As the he Hawks continue to find success this season, Hurelbrink can see that teams are bringing their best when they come to Macon. 

"The CIC is one of the best small-school conferences in Illinois and every team can battle back whenever. They are all giving us their best game," he said. 

After Kull's team-high 22 points, Nichols added 13 for the Rams (4-5, 3-3 CIC). Leo Logue added eight points that included two 3-pointers. In total, the Rams had seven 3s. 

"I think we played really good team ball. We knew they were a very experienced team and we knew they could shot the ball and we let them get a little too many 3s. That really hurt us," Graham Meisenhelter said.  

Contact Matthew Flaten at (217) 421-6968. Follow him on Twitter: @MattFlaten


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