Crawfordsville has lived and died by their defense in the early part of the season, and another strong effort led the Athenians to a 45-38 county and conference win over North Montgomery on Friday night.
“Our defensive effort was good,” Crawfordsville coach David Pierce said. “I thought the guys we subbed in off the bench — our defensive squad was huge — and at the same time I thought our guys on offense found ways to score on a struggling night.”
The first half featured a pair of runs by each team that saw a 20-20 tie after 16 minutes.
And then the Athenians (3-3, 1-1) found another gear offensively, and locked down the Chargers defensively.
Jesse Hall started the second half with an alley-oop dunk to spark the offense, and allow Crawfordsville to go on a 6-0 run. The junior led all scorers with 18 points, and hauled down 13 rebounds.
“I thought it was the most focused and engaged in the game that I’ve seen him this year,” Pierce said. “He just has to continue that, because our team needs him.”
North Montgomery (3-3, 0-2) responded with 7-3 run to cut the lead to 29-27, before Crawfordsville’s defense took over — holding the Chargers without a point over the next 7:57 — all while building a 36-27 lead early into the fourth quarter.
“We miss guys when we run a set,” Chargers coach Chad Arnold said of their offensive struggles. “We don’t get back into our other action. We don’t raise when we need to raise. We are struggling still on that.”
All season the Athenians have turned to their bench for answers defensively, often going 8-10 guys deep, and rotating guys in and out at almost every dead-ball. It paid off again on Friday.
“We have to play to our strengths, and if there’s an opportunity to and a dead ball then why not,” Pierce added. “It can be hard, because it’s hard to get into that flow, but at the same time we know our weaknesses, and we know our strengths. We capitalize on that.”
Arnold felt like the Chargers fell apart in many phases of the game in the second half that allowed the Athenians to take control of the game.
“Turning the ball over, not rotating on defense, give up rebounds,” he said. “Until we get tougher, until we start taking care of the basketball, and start rotating on defense, it’s going to be the same story. It’s a pride thing, and a concentration thing.”
Jaron Bradford led the Chargers with 14 points, while Jack Thompson chipped in eight.
While the defensive stepped up for the Athenians, Ty Lynas helped fill a second half scoring void as Hall was held to six points over the last 16 minutes. The junior added 12 points, while Karsten Williamson added eight. Crawfordsville shot just 34 percent (18-of-53) from the field, while North Montgomery connected on 15-of-38 (39 percent) shots. The Athenians won the advantage on the boards 33-28.
North Montgomery hosts Covington tonight, while Crawfordsville hosts Seeger.