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BBB: Athenians can't overcome slow start, fall to Warriors 71-63

DANVILLE – Crawfordsville will have to share the Sagamore Conference Championship after a 71-63 loss to Danville that closes out the conference schedule. The Athenians, who won their first Sagamore title since 1987 with a win over Tri-West last week, will share the crown with the Bruins now after they defeated North Montgomery. Both teams finish with 6-1 records in the league. There are no tiebreakers. Crawfordsville fought back from deficits twice in the game, and even took a brief lead in the third quarter, but the Warriors went on an 11-0 run right then and hit a run of free throws in the fourth quarter to take the win that moves them to 13-7 overall and 5-2 in the conference. “Danville made a few more plays than we did,” Athenians coach David Pierce said, “and they made them at the right time, especially on defense. I am proud of our effort and how hard we played, and I really want to thank the fans and the parents for the great and loud crowd and the support.” The defensive plays Pierce referred to was five blocked shots by Danville center Dillon Ware. The 6-6 junior swatted four shots by Athenians center Jesse Johnson-Hall, and that was a big offensive factor for Crawfordsville. “Jesse is a 59 percent shooter,” the coach said of his big sophomore. “For him to go 5-of-16 from the field says a lot about the defense Ware was playing on him, as well as blocking four.” Johnson-Hall would finish with 11 points. The Athenians fell behind early and spent the first half catching up. After being down 18-11 at the end of the first quarter, the visitors were down only 32-30 at halftime. Will Kellerman scored eight of his game-best 22 points in that quarter, while Cam Saunders pulled down eight of his game-best 13 rebounds. The Athenians stayed within that one bucket until a Kellerman layup at 4:49 remaining in the third gave Crawfordsville a 39-38 lead, and that large crowd was in full throttle. But the Warriors showed why they have beaten Crawfordsville now 15 straight times, and hold a 24-1 advantage in conference games since they joined the league. They forced a couple turnovers which became points, and hit a couple more shots to score 11 in a row. “We had five turnovers in the third quarter,” Pierce noted. “We finished with 14 for the game. Give Danville credit for what they did.” The Athenians had one more surge left in the fourth quarter, as they pared a nine-point deficit to one with two minutes to go. The Warriors hit a couple shots, and hit a bunch of free throws, to maintain the lead and take the win. “Ware had a couple huge blocks right in the middle of that run,” Pierce said. “That was the final key. We were on the edge.” Anthony Gonzalez was also in the middle of the final comeback attempt, as the senior scored all 10 of his points in that last quarter. The fourth double-digit scorer for Crawfordsville was Karsten Williamson, who had 10. The Athenians were 26-of-58 from the floor, 3-of-17 from long range and 8-of-11 from the line. They finished with 31 rebounds and 14 turnovers. Danville got 20 points from Peyton Roof, as the junior got 10 from the field and 10 from the line. He was 12 points over his average. Connor Jones had 18, Dillon Ware had 12 and Sam Comer had 11. The Warriors were 24-of-46 from the field, 2-of-7 from deep, with no attempts in the second half, and 21-of-27 from the line. They also had 31 rebounds, led by Ware with nine and had 13 turnovers. The game also gave Pierce and his staff a look ahead toward the sectional in two weeks. “It was really physical tonight,” he said, “and they will let us play in the tournament. It will be really loud at our place, and we got a taste of that tonight. It came down a couple things tonight, and that is what will happen in the post season. We play a tough schedule at the end of the season for this exact reason – to get ready.” The Athenians will close out the regular season next Friday and will honor their seniors with a game against Covington. JV Crawfordsville's junior varsity won a 66-65 overtime thriller as freshman Ian Hensley hit a running floater with 1.1 seconds left in the extra period. The Athenians, who trailed by 10 early in the third quarter, cut the margin to five at the end of the third and tied it late to send it to more minutes. With the victory, the JV runs its record to 19-1 with two games left next week DANVILLE 71 CRAWFORDSVILLE 63 CRAWFORDSVILLE 11 19 11 22 - 63 DANVILLE 18 14 19 20 - 71 Crawfordsville (15-6, 6-1): Scorza 0-3 0-0 0, Kellerman 9-17 3-4 22, Saunders 3-6 4-6 10, Johnson-Hall 5-16 0-0 11, Williamson 5-10 0-0 10, Scott 0-0 0-0 0, Decker 0-0 0-0 0, Gonzalez 4-6 1-1 10. Totals 26-58 8-11 63. Danville (13-7, 5-2): Roof 5-6 10-12 20, Ware 5-9 2-4 12, Jones 6-11 4-5 18, Ward 2-4 0-1 4, Comer 4-9 3-3 11, Wooten 0-3 0-0 0, Hiland 1-1 0-0 2, McMahon 0-1 0-0 0, O'Brien 0-1 0-0 0, Fulwider 1-1 2-2 4. Totals 24-46 21-27 71 3-Point Shooting: Crawfordsville 3-17 (Williamson 0-3, Scorza 0-2, Kellerman 1-5, Saunders 0-1, Gonzalez 1-3, Johnson-Hall 1-3; Danville 2-7 (Roof 0-1, Wooten 0-1, Jones 2-4, Comer 0-1). Rebounding: Crawfordsville 31 (Saunders 13. Johnson-Hall 7); Danville 31 (Ware 9, Ward 6). Turnovers: Crawfordsville 14, Danville 13.

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