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Athenians and Chargers set to renew county rivalry

Crawfordsville and North Montgomery are set to renew their county rivalry on the hardwood this evening when both the girls and boys teams meet at Crawfordsville for a Friday night double-header. The girls will get things underway at 6 p.m. with the boys to follow.

Girls bring intrigue to county matchup

Both Crawfordsville (3-7 0-3 SAC) and North Montgomery (7-5 1-1 SAC) girls come into this matchup looking to end respective losing streaks. The Athenians have dropped their last three contests to Danville, Lebanon, and Parke Heritage, while the Chargers have had a rough two games falling to tough squads in Tri-West and West Lafayette.

The Athenians will be well-rested with playing last Thursday while the Chargers are coming off a game on Tuesday. Athenian coach Tyler Smith sees the week off that is team had as both a positive and negative.

“It’s a good thing because we’ll have plenty of time to work on some things and add new things that might not show up on film,” he said. “From a player standpoint though it can be difficult when you’re used to playing a lot of games then have some time off. We have to make sure that we’re in the right mindset everyday. Our seniors want this game really bad. We’ve got our hands full but are excited sfor the challenge.”

The engine that has driven the Athenians this season has been senior guard Shea Williamson. Williamson comes into the contest leading the Athenians in points (11.3), rebounds (8.7), assists (2.8), steals (2.9), and blocks (2.0). Fellow senior guard Olivia Reed averages eight a contest for the Athenians.

North Montgomery coach Ryan Nuppnau knows the game plan starts with being able to defend the guard-heavy Athenians and then use their strengths to their advantage.

“Crawfordsville is a senior-heavy, guard-oriented team. They have a great guard in Williamson and a great shooter in Reed. I know they will go to their strengths and we have to go to ours. I’m sure we will see pressure from their guards, like we have been seeing from other teams.”

Katie Rice has been the go-to scorer for the Chargers this season averaging nearly 15 points per game. Along with Rice’s consistent play, North Montgomery is holding their opponents to right around 41 points.

“We’re going to do our best to simulate their physicality in practice,” he said. “They always are pretty physical and it’s something we’re going to have to be ready to play through.”

Nuppnau is throwing out his teams recent skid and knows that his team will be ready to go for a tough county matchup.

“It’s the first official county game against Crawfordsville,” he said. “We are coming off two tough losses, but I am confident we will bounce back. I know we will be ready to play.”

The Athenian girls will be looking for their first win over the Chargers since 2015.

Charger boys seek County Upset

North Montgomery will be complete their county schedule against the Athenians Friday night. Against Southmont in their second game of the season, the Chargers looked poised to for a potential upset, before the Mounties pulled away in the second half.

While North Montgomery (0-4, 0-1 SAC) is still in search of their first win, they’d love nothing more than to get it against their county rival.

“We’re just trying to do the correct things that we preach everyday,” North Montgomery coach Chad Arnold said. “First and foremost that means playing physical and playing hard. Crawfordsville has size, athleticism, and some real guys who can shoot the ball. It’ll be a challenge for us.”

The Athenians (3-2, 0-1 SAC) will be looking for their third straight win after defeating Attica and West Lafayette in their previous two games.

Ian Hensley leads the Athenians with nearly 16 points a game and five rebounds. Ziair Morgan also is averaging double digits with 12 a game. Longtime Athenians coach David Pierce knows the physical style that the Chargers love to play and credited the Chargers and Coach Arnold.

“Coach Arnold has done a great job at North. His guys have bought into his system and they have stayed the course and they play hard. His guys are gritty.”

The Chargers have been led this season by brother tandem of Jarrod and Jakob Kirsch. Jakob leads the team with 11 points per game while Jarrod is right around nine a game. Both are threats and have the ability to shoot the lights out and Arnold has credited both of them for their leadership.

“They can both really shoot the basketball and are really working to improve both on that end and the defensive side of the ball,” he said. “They’re key to us having success without question.”

Pierce echoed Arnold’s comments about the Kirsch brothers and noted the entire Charger team can be a dangerous one to go up against.

“North is a very dangerous team to play,” he said. They are very difficult to prepare for. You know they are going to play very hard and come right at you. You know that any guy at any time could get hot and that makes them hard to get ready for. If someone gets hot, they become very dangerous.”

Pierce while winning his past seven meetings against the Chargers dating back to 2015 is coming into this matchup, isn’t letting that get into his team’s mind.

“We have to stay humble,” Pierce said. “This is a big game for both teams and we have to come in hungry and ready to play. We have to play like underdogs.”

The boys game will begin 20 minutes after the conclusion of the girls game. You can catch broadcasts of both games on the radio on WIMC Thunder 103.9.

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