VEEDERSBURG — Crawfordsville set the tempo with an opening possession alley-oop dunk from Jesse Hall, and never backed down in a 60-39 win over Fountain Central on Friday night.
The Athenians jumped out to an early 16-3 lead late in the first quarter, and forced 16 first half turnovers by the Mustangs to take a commanding 39-19 lead into halftime.
“I think you could tell defensively we just wore Fountain Central down,” Crawfordsville coach David Pierce said. “Our goal was to hold them under 40, and I’ll be darned if we didn’t hold them to 39.”
Hall scored 12 of his game-high 17 points in the first half, while Ian Hensley added 12 for the Athenians.
“I was a little bit disappointed with our lack of poise,” Fountain Central coach Phil Shabi said. “Early a lot of fundamentals that we focused on, and a lot of the principals that we preach against that stuff kind of went out the window, because we got into panic mode a little bit. Hopefully it’s a learning experience for us. It’s a brutal one to take and it’s no fun for 32 minutes while you’re out there. They made things really difficult for us. They imposed their will on us.”
Mason Larkin sparked a 12-2 Fountain Central run with three-straight 3-pointers to cut the lead to 51-37 with 6:05 left in the final stanza, but the Athenians responded with nine-straight points to seal the win.
“If we can develop a little bit more poise and a little bit more toughness, we have guys that can hit shots,” Shabi added. “We really do.”
Fountain Central overall struggled from the field, shooting just 14-of-44, but connected on 10-of-25 3-point attempts. Larkin, who suited up for the first time Friday night since before Christmas due to a broken hand, nailed four triples and led the Mustangs with 14 points. Andrew Shabi added 11, while Carson Eberly added seven.
After a disappointing defensive effort in the first half against McCutcheon on Tuesday night, Pierce decided to implement defensive specialist and energizer bunny Carson Scott into the starting lineup on Friday.
And it paid off.
“It’s a defensive thing,” Pierce said. “I was mad about our intensity and our fight in our last game. He (Scott) fights, and he’s a hard-nosed kid, and it rubs off.”
Crawfordsville was 25-of-57 (44 percent) from the field, and just 3-of-17 (18 percent) from behind the arc, but the complete defensive effort helped offset a poor shooting night for the Athenians.
“We hang our confidence on our defense,” Pierce said. “It’s encouraging that we can have an off shooting night. Our defense is creating opportunities for us and that’s exciting to see. We are young, and when young guys figure out that defense is what wins it night in and night out.”
The Athenians gained a slight 35-31 advantage on the boards, and had just nine turnovers compared to the Mustangs’ 22.
Fountain Central falls to 6-8 on the season and is back at home tonight against South Vermillion.
Crawfordsville improves to 8-5 and travels to Southmont tonight with a Montgomery County title and Journal Review County Chase points on the line.
Crawfordsville’s Alex Kellerman hit a last-second shot to lift the Athenians over Fountain Central 34-32.
Crawfordsville 60, Fountain Central 39
CHS 16 23 10 11 — 60
FC 9 10 9 11 — 39
CHS (8-5): Ty Lynas 1-9 0-3 2, Carson Scott 0 0-0 0, Karsten Williamson 3-7 3-4 9, Ziair Morgan 2-5 2-2 7, Jesse Hall 7-12 2-3 17, Cole Watt 2-5 0-0 5, Nate Mayer 1-3 0-0 2, Alex Kellerman 0 0-0 0, Ian Hensley 6-10 0-0 12, Mekhi Wallace 3-6 0-2 6; Totals 25-57 7-14 60.