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Athenians outrun Mustangs

Crawfordsville wasted no time getting back to business after a two-week layoff on Friday night — defeating Fountain Central 74-45 in a non-conference boys’ basketball battle.

The Athenians (4-2) led 19-8 after a quarter and 35-18 at the half before riding to a comfortable win in their first game since Jan. 9 due to COVID-19 protocols. Seniors Ty Lynas and Jesse Hall led the Athenians with 20 and 17 points respectively.

“We knew it would take a team effort because we were out of shape,” longtime Crawfordsville coach David Pierce said. “We’ve only had about a day and a half of practice, but I was proud of our effort.”

Crawfordsville blitzed Fountain Central’s defense with a 29-of-58 (50%) shooting effort and out-rebounded the Mustangs 40-23.

“With the size advantage they had,” Fountain Central coach Phil Shabi said. “When a shot goes up and you have a 6-8 and 6-6 goliath underneath, they are just able to release guys knowing they’re most likely going to get the rebound.”

As impressive as the offense was for the Athenians, Pierce had high praise for his entire defense.

“I was really proud of Mekhi (Wallace), Nate (Schroeter), and Jesse (Hall),” he said of his guys down low. “They did a heck of a job. Six blocks for the game between the three of them. That’s huge for them and builds their confidence.

“I’m just really happy with our defense tonight. I thought our defensive intensity was there.”

Fountain Central (5-5) connected on just 13-of-44 shots and its struggles carried over to the foul line with a 13-of-23 effort. The loss is the fourth-straight for the Mustangs, as they’ve averaged just 43 points per game during the skid.

“It’s been baffling,” Shabi said. “We’ve got guys right now that have been challenged to step up. A lot of times it’s been a lack of ball movement and guys just trying to do too much. We’ve been trying to work on getting more motion and getting more movement, while still playing fast and getting good shots.”

Andrew Shabi led the Mustangs with 10 points, while Will Harmon added nine points on a trio of made 3-pointers.

As the Athenians get their legs back, the schedule will pick up, starting with a trip to Speedway today, before hosting Lebanon on Wednesday, traveling to Frankfort on Friday and trip to Northview on Saturday. Pierce played 13 guys on Friday, but knows his senior leaders will carry them down the stretch.

“When we do struggle, because we are coming back or maybe it’s a three-game or four-game week, to be able to go to those guys to get us a bucket when we need it is huge,” Pierce said of Hall and Lynas. “They’ve worked four years to become that special element for our team and they’ve earned and now we rely on them.”

Alex Kellerman added nine points for Crawfordsville, while Cale Coursey chipped in nine off the bench.

Fountain Central travels to South Vermillion tonight.

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