This isn’t just your average regular season finale that will take place on Friday night between Crawfordsville and Covington. The two teams, who hold one of the state’s oldest rivalries, will play their final game of the 2022-23 season in the old CHS gym. The game will be the first game played there in nearly 30 years. It’s already a sellout crowd as the old gym will pack 1500 (and probably some extra) fans into the gym as they watch the Athenians and Trojans play on the hallowed hardwood.
The host Athenians come into the game looking to snap a skid as they’re just 1-6 in their last seven games played and hold a record of 8-13. The visiting Trojans are in about the same boat with a 1-6 record in their last seven as they just snapped a six game skid last Saturday and come in at 11-12 on the year.
Throw the records aside, as when the Athenians and Trojans meet up, you can usually expect a very good ball game. The only proof you need of that is how close the scores have been over the last 4-5 years. In 2018 the Trojans got a narrow 49-45 win with the Athenians getting them back the next season winning 77-71. In 2020 it took overtime to decide a winner with the Trojans coming out on top 75-68. In 2021 the game was missed due to COVID, but a season ago the Athenians picked up a narrow 75-73 win.
Crawfordsville coach David Pierce knows the magnitude of this game goes beyond what will take place on the court.
“Evan (Morgan) is a Crawfordsville man through and through and is one our past graduates,” Pierce said of the Trojan coach. “He’s a great student of the game and knows the history of both teams. I think the atmosphere on Friday will be the best that are student athletes will ever play in. In a small gym like that with it being a sellout, we know the place is going to be rocking.”
The process to get to play in the old CHS Gym wasn’t an easy one and took cooperation from both schools and their administrations. Pierce made sure the Cville administration got the thanks that they deserve.
“It’s taken a lot of people to make this happen,” he said. “Everyone from Jay Strickland, to Rex Ryker, Sean Gerold and Bryce Barton everyone has played a role. It’s really cool to see that old players and coaches will be here too.”
With the loud and tough environment for both teams, Morgan is using this as a way to prepare his team for what they will see in the post-season and sees similarities with both his Trojans and the Athenians.
“We are looking forward to playing in this unique and historic atmosphere,” he said. “This game is going to help us prepare for our sectional. It is going to be loud and that will help our guys figure out how to play under pressure. We both lost a group of seniors and have been trying to figure out our identity all season long. We have both had games where it doesn’t seem like we can miss, but also games where we couldn’t throw it in the ocean. I think this is a great opportunity for both of us to tune up our game for the sectional. We are really focused on the defensive end and our rebounding. Crawfordsville, as does most teams that we play, has a size advantage and we can not allow them to get second & third chances on offense.”
The Trojans have three players who all average right around 11 points a game as junior Coye Ferguson leads the team with 11.5 points and also grabs 7.3 rebounds a game. Senior Duncan Keller scores 11.4 and grabs 6.0 rebounds while Sophomore Austin Stein scores 11.1.
“We want to take pride in being from Crawfordsville and want to be proud of the product that we put out there on the floor,” Pierce added. “We can’t get caught up in the bright lights and all of the festivities. Both teams are really evenly matched and hopefully our guys bring it on Friday.”
There’s plenty of ways to catch the game if you’re unable to attend. Crawfordsville Athletics YouTube will be doing a live broadcast of the game as will 103.9 WIMC as Jared McMurry and Billy R will hit the airwaves at 6:30 for an extended pre-game show.