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Athenians hand Tigers first SAC loss

Crawfordsville got fourth quarter heroics from a bench player Wednesday night to pull away from Lebanon 49-37 in a Sagamore Conference victory in boys’ basketball.

Mekhi Wallace scored six of the Athenians first eight points of the final period to turn a one-point lead into a 40-31 advantage at the midway point of the fourth. The junior reached double-figures with 10 points.

“The kid that we were impressed by and was above and beyond tonight was Mekhi Wallace,” Crawfordsville basketball coach David Pierce said. “I thought he was huge down the stretch. I thought in the fourth quarter we were able to pull away because of his inside presence. We know he is capable and it kind of depends on the game.”

Wallace emerged in the absence of Jesse Hall, who sat to start the fourth with four fouls. Crawfordsville led 24-18 at the half, but Lebanon outscored the Athenians 13-8 in the third quarter behind a 5-of-9 shooting effort to make it 32-31 after three.

Lebanon jumped out to an early 11-6 lead, using a strong defense and a patient offensive scheme that’s worked for them all season. Crawfordsville took the lead for good on a pair of Jesse Hall free throws at the 2:01 mark in the first half, making it 18-16.

“We knew going in they (Lebanon) had held teams 15 under their average,” Pierce said. “Part of it is because they slow it down, and they do a nice job to be in the game. I felt like we did a nice job of taking it to them in the first half and got them into some foul trouble by being aggressive.”

The Tigers foul trouble was large in part to their defense on Hall, Crawfordsville’s six-foot-eight center, who came into the contest averaging over 13 points per game. Hall only took one shot, but found himself at the line 12 times and knocked down 10 tosses for 10 points.

“I think that’s a first,” Pierce said of Hall’s zero field goals. “He had som

e passes that were crucial. There’s no worry. He does so many little things, and it’s not always necessarily scoring. Personally, he’s probably frustrated. We are thrilled to death with how he played.”

Ty Lynas continued his steady hand offensively, leading the Athenians with 17 points. Crawfordsville connected on 16-of-38 shots, all two-point makes, while Lebanon was 13-of-37. The Athenians won the turnover battle with just 10 miscues compared to 15 for the Tigers and had the advantage on the boards 24-15.

Hunter Crew led Lebanon with 11 points.

Crawfordsville is at Frankfort on Friday, before traveling to Northview on Saturday. Lebanon welcomes Southmont on Friday.

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