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Athenians focused on playing together to sustain success

It’s a new era for Crawfordsville boys basketball... kind of. After suffering a heart-breaking sectional championship loss to Danville a season ago the Athenians are looking forward to getting back. However they’ll have to do it without two of their superstars from a season ago as Jesse Hall and Ty Lynas both graduated. The dynamic duo both averaged 18 points per game a season ago.

Longtime Athenian coach David Pierce is still very confident in a group that will feature a total of six seniors.

“This group of guys has been playing together for quite a long time,” Pierce said. “They love playing together and are a very unselfish bunch. For the last couple of years we’ve had some main guys who would carry the load offensively, but with this group anybody can go off at any given time or what we’ll probably see is more of a well-balanced approach on offense.”

Ziair Morgan, Alex Kellerman, Ian Hensley, Gavin Kenny, Alex Hernandez, and Mekhi Wallace make up the group of six seniors for the Athenians. Cale Coursey is the lone junior on the squad while sophomores Drake Burris, Ethan McLemore, and Kale Wemer round at the roster.

Kellerman is the leading returning scorer for Crawfordsville from a season ago as he averaged nine points a contest. Hensley was the Swiss army knife averaging nearly seven a game while grabbing six rebounds and dishing our four assists. Both Wallace and Morgan score nearly five a game while Coursey was primarily a defensive specialist for the Athenians a season ago.

“Our guys are focused this year and just finding the open guy and knocking down a bucket,” Pierce said. “They love to play in transition and speed the game up. When you have a group with six seniors, sometimes you take for granted how much they actually have learned over the years. Their leadership in practice has been amazing and this group has a ton of potential.”

For some on the Athenian squad this season this will be their first time in the spotlight. But Crawfordsville has plenty of guys who have been through the battles and wars so experience shouldn’t be an issue with this team according to Pierce.

“Where it’ll matter the most is the little things with us,” he said. “Right now we’re still a little rough around the edges with getting into our offense and turning the ball over. To be successful we’ll have to take care of the ball and control the game. That wears on some teams and if we’re able to do that we’ll be in good shape.”

Crawfordsville opens the season tonight at home as part of a girl boy double against Greencastle. The Tiger Cubs and Athenians have had their battles over the last few seasons including a 52-51 overtime loss in the sectional title game in 2019. Crawfordsville defeated the Tiger Cubs in the lone matchup a season ago in the season opener 72-63.

“They’re in a little bit of rebuilding phase like us,” Pierce said. “When you play the first game of the season it’s fun but nerve-wracking at the same time because you don’t know much about your opponent. To some degree we don’t know much about Greencastle so for our guys we’ll go in and look to get off to a good start and knock the dust off. Hopefully our veterans will do what it take to put us in position to win.”

A season ago very few people got the chance to attend winter sporting events as the world was tipped on its head due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This season Pierce is excited for his squad to get back to what is hopefully a normal season with the bleachers packed with fans.

“All teams had to deal with that a season go and it impacted everyone in different ways,” he said. “It was a struggle at points and this season to get to see people back in the stands supporting our kids who’ve put a lot of hard work and time in is special. I can’t wait for our guys to have that opportunity. You don’t realize how good you have it until its gone and we really missed our fans last year so we’re looking forward to having everyone back.”

The Athenians will tip off 20 minutes after the conclusion of the girls game which gets underway at 6 p.m.

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