If getting ready to play on the varsity level is gauged by success, then Crawfordsville’s basketball program is on sound footing.
The Athenians junior varsity checked off all the boxes this season: winning a county title and a Sugar Creek championship, going unbeaten in the Sagamore Conference and finishing with a 21-1 record.
Their work went noticed.
“Part of the reason our varsity has done some historic things this season is because of our junior varsity,” varsity head coach David Pierce said. “They have battled the varsity every day in practice and helped make them better.”
Those battles paid off in jv games as they kept winning.
“The move from seventh and eighth grade to the varsity level is a huge jump,” jv coach Danny Pierce said. “These guys have adjusted, learned fast and gotten better and better. It goes back to their summers. They worked hard, worked on their quickness and skills. They learned to play hard and under control.”
Pierce, affectionately known as “OP” which stands for “Old Pierce,” is in his 40th season of coaching hoops. “One of the players went to one of the local stores and found a pair of shoes with “OP” on them,” Pierce noted. “They even fit.”
Coaching at every level at Western Boone before moving to Crawfordsville five years ago, the elder coach picks up the head coach’s philosophy and strengthens it as players move from the elementary levels to the high school plain.
“We work to get better as players and as a program,” he said. “David has put a lot of emphasis on playing hard and working as a group, having a family atmosphere and family support. I have 80 percent of the players in my classes and see them every day, and our doors are always open if anyone wants to talk. We take care of each other.”
There is a strong list of players who will take their games to the varsity level in a year or two.
“We’ve got guards like Ty Lynas, Ziair Morgan and Andrew Martin who are quick and handle the ball well,” Pierce said. “They push the ball and can score too. Then we have the longer and stronger guys like Ian Hensley, Alex Kellerman, Nate Schroeter, Mekhi Wallace and Alex Hernandez. Their quickness makes them even better. Kaigen Fields is recovering from a football injury while Gavin Lenny is a shooter who keeps getting better. Cole Watt is a junior who brought a lot of leadership to a lot of younger players. The varsity guys also step in and work with the jv guys. There is just so much comaraderie between all of them.”
OP also has the inside track to the head coach of being his dad.
“David was a gym rat,” the elder Pierce said. “I give him another angle sometimes, and we are on the same wavelength a lot of times, but I am not his yes man. I am blessed to have the support of my wife Lisa and to be able to support my son.”
The boss summed up 11 years of coaching with and 30-some years with his father.