A pair of scoring runs in the first and second half pushed Greencastle past Crawfordsville 55-49 in the season opener for both teams on Tuesday night.
In a rematch of the sectional overtime thriller won by the Tiger Cubs last March, the duo once again didn’t disappoint.
Trailing 51-41 with less than 90 seconds to play, the Athenians cut the lead to 51-49 on a Ty Lynas 3-pointer with 26 seconds left — only to watch the Tiger Cubs knock down 4-of-6 shots from the foul line to seal the win down the stretch.
“We obviously battled until the end, and that was a super positive thing we can take away from this,” Crawfordsville assistant coach Tony Bean said after the game.
Jesse Hall scored five-straight points late in the fourth, while the Athenians (0-1) took advantage of two-straight misses by the Tiger
Cubs at the free throw line to climb back in it.
“He played like a leader,” Bean added about Hall, who scored 17 of his team-high 20 points in the second half.
Lynas added 14, including knocking down a trio of 3-pointers.
An 8-0 run to start both the second and third quarters by Greencastle proved to be the difference in the long run. Led by seven consecutive points from Brody Whitaker — the Tiger Cubs added a 7-3 run early in the fourth to push their lead to 43-33 midway through the final period. Whitaker led all scorers with 21, while Cade Plew added 16 for Greencastle.
Crawfordsville went more than five minutes to start the game without a point, and another 2:26 to start the second half without scoring. Outside of Hall and Lynas, the Athenians struggled to find much rhythm on offense — connecting on just 18-of-48 shots from the field, while Greencastle shot 50 percent (21-of-42).
“We can sit here and make excuses about missed shots, and especially in the first half with a lot of shots we missed that we feel like we will be able to hit after tonight,” Bean said. “But we didn’t execute real well the things we’ve been practicing.”
Greencastle returned four of last years’ sectional championship team’s five starters, while Crawfordsville returned just two in Hall and Karsten Williamson, but Bean and the Athenians aren’t ready to settle for any moral victories.
“The guys got good experience,” he said. “And that’s what you want. You want to play the best, so we got the guys that experience, but you are still expected to execute. And still expected to do the things we know they know how to do. We certainly didn’t play like we expect to play.”
Crawfordsville will try and bounce back Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. at home against Benton Central.