Crawfordsville boys’ basketball coach David Pierce knew his team would have a fourth quarter advantage if they pushed Southmont to its limits through the first three periods.
Pierce was right as the Athenians outscored the Mounties 26-9 in the fourth to pull away and defeat the Mounties 71-49 in a Sagamore Conference and Montgomery County tilt on Saturday night.
“Our goal before the game was pressure and to keep constant pressure,” Pierce said. “Run real hard, our goal was to force some fatigue and they only go six-deep and we felt like in the fourth quarter we could pull away.”
The Athenians quickly turned a 45-40 lead into an insurmountable one by connecting on 10-of-16 shots in the final stanza, but it was moments in the first half and third quarter that set the stage for such a wide margin of victory.
Southmont (4-4, 2-1 SAC) out-rebounded Crawfordsville (3-2, 1-0 SAC) 15-12 in the first half, but five offensive rebounds for the Athenians turned into 10 second chance points and a 29-24 Crawfordsville lead.
Logan Oppy nailed a 3-pointer to start the second half to make it 29-27 Athenians, but the Mounties never got any closer. Southmont was 6-of-7 from the field in the quarter, but seven turnovers were too much to overcome. The Mounties had 18 turnovers for the game compared to just seven for the Athenians.
“Things that killed us was transition defense. We would score and then they would run up and down our backs and score,” Southmont coach Jake Turner said. “And then they hurt us on the boards. And we are a team that we expect to hurt teams on the O-boards and they really kind of took it to us there.”
Ty Lynas had the steady hand for the Athenians – leading all scorers with 19 points, but it was Ian Hensley scoring 15 of his 18 points in the second half that helped keep the offensive flame lit. Hensley was a perfect 6-of-6 shooting over the last 16 minutes.
“The breakout game for us was Ian Hensley,” Pierce said. “Ian had a huge game for us. That poor kid had to be quarantined because of close contact three times and he is a guy that we’ve missed for a long time, so we are really proud of Ian.”
Jesse Hall added 14 and Ziair Morgan seven for the Athenians.
Carson Chadd led the Mounties with 17 points, but was limited to four in the second half. Avery Saunders added 12. While Crawfordsville was over 50% from the field (29-of-56), Southmont was 19-of-40 – but just 3-of-9 in the decisive fourth quarter. Turner was overall pleased with the effort despite the 21-point loss.
“I’m proud of how hard we played,” he said. “I thought we really competed for really the whole game. So effort wasn’t a problem, I thought our guys were tough and played through some adversity. Crawfordsville’s a really good team and they’re hard to guard.”
Chadd’s 17 points gave him his fourth-straight double-figure game — something the Mounties will build on moving forward.
“Carson is an amazing competitor,” Turner said about the sophomore. “He hates to lose and he works so hard in practices and brings the intensity of our practices up because he just competes so hard and he wants to be great, and I really appreciate that about him. He’s really helping us not only scoring, but handling the ball and rebounding.”
Southmont is at Danville on Friday.
Saturday was Crawfordsville’s best defensive performance of the season — an emphasis that will continue as the Athenians enter a crucial part of the season — starting on Tuesday when they host Lebanon.
“Our defense, it takes a lot of guts and you really have to dig deep to play that way in the fourth quarter when we were tired as well,” Pierce said. “Really to hold South to 49 is really hard to do. They’re a good team.”