GREENCASTLE — Much like in their regular season meeting, Crawfordsville jumped out to a double-digit lead over Tri-West in Wednesday night’s Class 3A Sectional quarterfinal at Greencastle. This time though the Bruins fought back, but the Athenians held a lead from the 5:28 mark in the first quarter on, clinging to an 81-80 victory to advance to Friday’s second semifinal against Danville.
Crawfordsville led 22-11 after a quarter, and 38-29 at the half, but Tri-West didn’t back down in the second half.
Trailing by 12 entering the fourth quarter, the Bruins (9-14) first cut the lead to single digits on a Taylor Gardner 3-pointer to make it 58-51, and eventually down to six points at 63-57 on a Nicolas Smith triple at the 5:25 mark.
Midway through the final period Tri-West once again surged with an 8-0 run to make it 66-65 Athenians (13-10) with 2:57 left, only to watch Crawfordsville respond with a 7-2 run. A Dylan Bear 3-pointer with eight seconds left closed the gap back down to one possession, but Karsten Williamson responded with free throws at the other end for the Athenians.
“We faced some adversity,” Crawfordsville coach David Pierce said. “In the second half I thought our defense was good, but Tri-West stepped up and started taking some outside shots that fell for them, and we weathered the storm. It was a really good team win.”
Luke Robertson led the Bruins comeback with 19 of his game-high 25 points coming in the second half, while Tri-West knocked down 6-of-12 3-pointers over the last 16 minutes.
The Bruins scored 34 fourth quarter points, while the Athenians hit just three field goals, but iced the game at the free throw line. Crawfordsville made 45 trips to the charity stripe in the game, connecting on 34 of them, including a 17-of-24 effort in the final eight minutes.
A foursome of Athenians scored in double-figures led by Jesse Hall’s 23. Ty Lynas and Karsten Williamson chipped in 13 apiece, while Ian Hensley added 12.
With Hall and fellow big man Mekhi Wallace both in second half foul trouble, Pierce was proud of how a sophomore in Hensley answered the bell.
“Obviously we had some guys in foul trouble which was key on the defensive end,” he said. “Ian Hensley was amazing. Sophomore that stepped up for us. Went and got loose balls, and hit a bunch of free throws down the stretch for us.”
Crawfordsville was able to stick to the game plan, and that helped lead to the abundance of trips to the line.
“I felt like we were able to get to the rim,” Pierce said. “Obviously we shot 45 free throws because we attacked the rim. That was key No. 1.”
The Athenians had a perfect 17-of-17 night on charity tosses back on Feb. 14 in a 79-63 win over the Bruins.
Tri-West was blistering hot from the field, especially in the second half, connecting on 28-of-50 (56%) shots from the field, while Crawfordsville was 22-of-41. The Athenians did hold Bruins’ leading scorer in Gardner to 11 points, and a single 3-point make. Dylan Bear chipped in 14 in the season-ending loss for Tri-West with four 3-point makes, while Smith and Alex Covey each added 11.
Crawfordsville will look to avenge an 83-52 loss suffered to the No. 7 ranked Warriors back on Feb. 21 after 20-4 Danville defeated Monrovia 74-55 on Wednesday night.
“We had three or four guys that didn’t show up,” Pierce said of the two team’s first meeting. “Playing on their heels and very timid. They didn’t show up at all, and I would venture to say we didn’t give ourselves a chance.”
“Our guys will be ready to play. They’ve got to show up and want it more.”
The Athenians and Warriors rematch will follow the first semifinal at Greencastle on Friday night featuring Frankfort and North Montgomery.
Crawfordsville 81, Tri-West 80
CHS 22 16 20 23 — 81
TW 11 18 17 34 — 80
CHS (13-10): Ty Lynas 5-12 3-4 13, Carson Scott 1-2 2-2 4, Karsten Williamson 2-3 8-8 13, Ziair Morgan 2-4 3-5 8, Jesse Hall 6-8 10-13 23, Ian Hensley 3-7 6-9 12, Mekhi Wallace 3-5 2-4 8; Totals 22-41 34-45 81.
TW (9-14): Mason Loviseck 1-5 0-0 2, Luke Robertson 9-13 6-8 25, Taylor Gardner 4-13 4-4 13, Bryce Hendershot 2-2 0-0 4, Nicolas Smith 4-5 0-0 11, Alex Covey 3-6 3-7 11, Dylan Bear 5-6 0-0 14; Totals 28-50 13-19 81.