For the 190th time rivals Crawfordsville and Lebanon met Wednesday night and it was the Athenians coming away with a 68-54 win to advance to Friday night’s sectional semifinal game.
“We have taken pour lick from them in the past, so this is a great feeling,” Crawfordsville coach David Pierce said of the win over the Tigers.
Lebanon came out quick to start the game and led 3-0 before the Athenians turned up the defensive pressure and took an 8-3 lead and never looked back. In fact, that defensive pressure was the key to the game.
Through the first three quarters, the Athenians limited the Tigers (9-15) to just 19 points. After leading 23-14 at the half, the Athenians (17-6) took their coach’s halftime advice and took control of the game early in the third quarter.
“We told them at halftime that the first few minutes of the third period was going to decide the winner,” Pierce said. “We turned up the pressure, got some easy baskets off that pressure and took control of the game.”
In that quarter the Athenians Lebanon 20-5 and took a commanding 43-19 lead into the final eight minutes of play.
In the fourth quarter, Lebanon employed the foul defense and they fouled the Athenians on nearly every possession. In fact, Crawfordsville attempted just two shots from the floor in the final eight minutes and made them both. The team paraded to the foul line 31 times and made 21 to account for its 25 fourth-quarter points. For the game, the Athenians hit 26-of-40 from the foul line and outscored Lebanon 26-14 from the stripe.
Lebanon found its offense in the fourth quarter and put up 35 points, nearly double what it had in the first three quarters.
“We did a lot of things really well the first three quarters,” Pierce said. “In the fourth quarter I think some of our younger players showed a little bit of immaturity. When you get that far ahead you can lose come concentration and that happened for a bit, but I thought our seniors helped get us back on track.”
Will Kellerman scored a game-high 20 points to lead the Athenians. He was one of three Athenians to break into double figures. Tray Scorza added 16 and Karsten Williamson added 11.
Lebanon was led by Carson Burtron who tallied 18 and Kye Zimmerman added 14.
The Athenians will battle Western Boone (12-11), a 59-47 winner of Southmont in the first game Wednesday night, in the 7:30 p.m. game Friday in the Crawfordsville Sectional. That game will be follow the Greencastle taking on North Montgomery matchup.
The win by the Athenians, its 79th in the overall series, marked the fourth consecutive win over the Tigers. Crawfordsville has beaten Lebanon more times in a row just six times since the first two teams started playing in 1908. It marked the first time Crawfordsville has won four in a row since it won five in a row from 1952-1954. This just the fourth win in 11 meetings in the sectional for the two storied rivals and the first sectional win by the Athenians over the Tigers since March 3, 2006. This also marked just the fourth time (but third out of the last four) in the last 14 seasons Crawfordsville has advanced past the first round of sectional play.
Crawfordsville has beaten Western Boone twice this season, but Pierce knows they will be ready on Friday.
“They like to play a physical style of basketball and we have to be ready for that,” he said. “Right now our guys are pretty fired up and we will be ready to go on Friday.