GREENCASTLE — Survive and advance was the case in this game.
Crawfordsville struggled shooting the ball in the first half, but overcame a rough start to beat Greencastle 46-33 in the first round of the Class 3A IHSAA Sectional at Greencastle on Tuesday.
The Athenians (16-7) couldn’t get much going before halftime and it wasn’t until the third that a switch flipped and Crawfordsville went on a 16-1 run to pull away for good.
Now the Athenians advance to play Tri-West in the sectional semifinal at 6 p.m. Friday. The winner of that game will play in the championship game on Saturday.
“We’re real lucky with the seniors that we have, they kept their composure,” Crawfordsville coach David Pierce said. “It was real close there until about midway through the third quarter.”
That’s when senior Devin Guard scored, and after the Tigers Cubs made a free throw, Guard scored again to tie the game at 21 with 4:31 to go in the third. Then, following a missed basket by Greencastle, Guard made a 3-pointer to put the Athenians ahead 24-21 and never trailed again.
But Guard, who scored 11 of his 16 points in the third, wasn’t done. He was fouled on a 3-pointer with 3:13 left in the quarter and made the free throw to give Crawfordsville a 28-21 lead.
“When he made that four-point play I thought it took off from there,” Pierce said. “After that you saw us pick it up a notch. We just needed something good to happen. It took two and a half quarters for that to happen.”
Cameron Harris followed up Guard’s big run with a lay-up and a 3-pointer to put Crawfordsville ahead 33-21.
Harris finished with 17 points on 6 of 10 shooting and was the one who created a spark in the first half when the Athenians struggled to find a groove. The Tiger Cubs (8-15) scored early in the second quarter to go up a point before Harris’ 3-point play gave Crawfordsville a 10-8 lead. And after Greencastle tied it at 10, he made a 3 to give the Athenians the lead again.
Before that, Crawfordsville couldn’t make a shot. The Athenians shot 24 percent from the field on 5 of 21 shooting in the first half. And still the game was tied at 15 at halftime.
Credit that to Crawfordsville’s defense.
“Our defense won the ball game for us,” Pierce said. “The good thing is we played really, really, really good defense. We were focused. Against Tri-West and the other teams that are left, you have to be focused defensively to give yourself a shot.”
The Athenians hope to hold some of Tri-West’s top scorers like they did Greencastle’s Colin York, who entered Tuesday’s game averaging 19.4 points.
“We figured he was going to get his 20,” Pierce said. “If you told me our guys were going to play good enough defense to make him shoot 1 of 11 and only score six points, I would have been shocked. We had been shooting the ball really, really well. Hopefully that is with us on Friday while playing defense and if that’s there, Friday night should be a fun game.”