Crawfordsville’s boys’ basketball team got 2020 off to a good start with a convincing 58-44 win over Parke Heritage.
A solid combination of offense and defense set the tone for the Athenians, who move to 5-3 on the season while the Wolves drop to 10-3.
The youngsters were also a big part.
“We started three sophomores,” Athenians coach David Pierce said. “We got off to a great start against a 10-2 team. We challenged the guys coming in that we needed to come in and play hard.”
The home team clicked from the start, showing no signs of a long holiday layoff. They were up by double-digits with a minute left in the first quarter and kept that margin intact all night.
They shot well, hitting nearly 50 percent from the field. They out-rebounded the Wolves by 11, out-scored them by 12 from the line and had only eight turnovers.
“Parke Heritage is a very physical team,” Pierce said. “We handled that part well. I was really concerned with rebounding, and we hit some shots that we’ve been struggling with. It was a good boost for us heading into the Sugar Creek Classic next week.”
The Athenians gave Mekhi Wallace his first start of the season, and the sophomore responded with six points and a game-best 10 rebounds, seven coming on the offensive end.
“He’s got about a seven-foot wingspan,” Pierce noted. He is a talented player. This game was a good one for him. The style of game allowed him to bang with the other big experienced guys. He really stepped up.”
Jesse Hall was the leading scorer with 21 points. The junior had three steals off the press.
“He (Hall) was able to get by his man to the hoop,” Pierce said of the big guy. “This was a huge confidence game for him.”
Karsten Williamson added 10 points and three assists, and was 4-of-4 from the line.
“KW (Williamson) did a great job,” Pierce said, “especially on the defensive end. We put him on (PH leading scorer Christian) Johnson at halftime, and he held him to only four points.”
Johnson had 15 of the Wolves’ 19 first-half points.
CHS was 20-of-43 from the field, and 5-of-15 from long range. They were 13-of-17 from the line and had a 33-22 rebound advantage. Nate Schroeter had four boards, which was next behind the 10 for Wallace.
“Nate hasn’t gotten a lot of minutes because he has been working back from an injury,” Pierce said of the junior. “He had just a super-productive fourth quarter.”
Schroeter finished with seven points, four boards, two blocks and a steal.
The Wolves were led in scoring by Johnson’s 19. They were 19-of-45 from the field, 5-of-13 from deep and 1-of-3 from the line. Leading scorer Connor Davis, who had 33 Friday night against South Vermillion, was limited to eight points.
“We laid an egg tonight,” PH coach Rich Schelsky said. “Give Crawfordsville all the credit. We had a tough WRC game last night (a win over South Vermillion) and they (Crawfordsville) are longer and stronger than we are. They punched us in the face and we didn’t respond. (Christian) Johnson is a very talented freshman. It’s too bad we had to rely so much on him tonight. The good part is that all three of our losses are to 3A schools and we are about done playing 3A schools.”
The Athenians are idle until Friday when they take on Southmont in the first night of the Sugar Creek Classic.
“It’s all about momentum going into next weekend,” Pierce said. “Tonight gives us more confidence, which is big. We might have won the Classic last year, but with three sophomores starting tonight, we are a very different team. It should be fun.”