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Athenians make it five straight with gritty win over Sparkplugs

SPEEDWAY — Crawfordsville closed out the 2021 portion of their schedule with a trip to Speedway to face an always scrappy Sparkplug group.

In a game that featured 27 fouls, 18 on the home team, the game had a sectional intensity to it. The Athenians relied on their seniors to pull out the hard fought 58-56 win to improve to 6-2 on the season while Speedway fell to 2-4.

Speedway jumped out to a 9-3 lead before the Athenians closed out the quarter on a 10-3 run to lead 13-12 after one. The two teams traded leads throughout much of the second quarter, thanks to the play of Mekhi Wallace underneath. The senior scored six of the team’s 13 in the quarter as they took a 26-23 lead to the break.

“Coach Danny Pierce has said Mekhi’s the best post player he’s coached,” David Pierce said of the 6’4” senior. “That’s saying something, since he’s been doing this for 30-plus years. He just has good foot work that allows him to get open looks.”

The third quarter saw both teams pick up their defensive intensity. Crawfordsville used that defensive pressure as their best offense, opening up a nine-point, 36-27, lead midway through the quarter, only to see Speedway close it to four, 38-34, to start the fourth.

For the game, the Athenians converted 21 of 23 from the line, including 11 of 13 in the fourth quarter allowing them to pull out the 58-56 win. Ziair Morgan was 5-for-6 in the quarter, Wallace 2-for-3 and Ian Hensley and Gavin Kenny both 2-for-2.

Morgan and Wallace led the Athenians with 15 each while Hensley added 11 and Hernandez eight. They shot 37% from the field and 91% from the foul line.

“That may have been the best defense played against Ziair in two years and to only commit two turnovers the entire games shows how much Z was locked in,” Pierce said of his senior point guard. “He was getting bumped quite a bit, but he kept his composure and had quite a few nice assists.”

Speedway was led by Cale Bennett’s 20 and Reis Walker’s 18. Nate Matelic came in averaging 16.5 and Ian Hensley held him to 11.

“Hensley did a great job limiting Matelic’s looks,” Pierce said. “To keep him almost six below his average is huge. Bennett surprised us a little, but we knew he could shoot.”

Crawfordsville will face North Montgomery in the annual Sugar Creek Classic on Jan. 7.

“Obviously the Sugar Creek Classic’s going to be a barn burner in regards that we’ll be playing a local rival both games.” Pierce said. “So, this was perfect for us to be in a pressure situation, away from home and that made it really difficult. Super proud of the guys tonight.

“I’m glad we played this way right before North,” he continued. “I know we’re going to bring a lot more intensity in the first half, than we did the last game. We didn’t bring it until the second half. We will bring it all four quarters.”


CV13 13 12 20 — 58

SP 12 11 11 22 — 56

Crawfordsville (6-2)

FG-FGA FT-FTA: Ziair Morgan 3-11 7-8 15, Mekhi Wallace 4-9 7-8 15, Ian Hensley 3/10. 4-4, 11, Alex Hernandez 4/7 0-0 8, Alex Kellerman 1/3 1/1 3, Gavin Kenny 2/5 2/2 6, Ethan McLemore 0-1 0-0 0; Totals 17-46 21-23 58

Speedway (2-4)

Cale Bennett 8-14 3-3 20, Reis Walker 8-13 2-3 18, Nate Matelic 5-10 0-0 11, Jackson Smith 2-5 0-0 4, Landon Short 1-4 1-2 3, Eli Owens 0-2 0-0 0; Totals 24-48 6-8 56

3-Point Shooting: Crawfordsville 3-13 (Morgan 2-8, Hensley 1-4, Kenny 0-1), Speedway 5-11 (Bennett 4-7, Matelic 1-3, Short 0-1)

Rebounding: Crawfordsville 30 (Wallace 8), Speedway 24. (Matelic 7)

Turnovers: Speedway 8, Crawfordsville 7

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