The shooter eyed the rim, elevated and shot only to watch the ball fall off the rim.
That was not any Crawfordsville shooter in particular. That was the fate of most in Friday evening’s 48-44 Sagamore Conference boys loss to Tri-West on senior night in the Athenian Gym.
“I felt like, if we held them under 50, we had a chance,” Crawfordsville coach David Pierce said. “I was proud of our guys defensively. Again, it was poor shooting – 1-of-11 from three and what really hurt was 9-14 from the free throw line.”
The home team only hit one of its first five shots as the Bruins raced to an early 9-2 advantage and 14-8 by the end of the first quarter.
The Athenians (8-10, 3-3 SAC) had to play catch up the rest of the night.
They trailed by as many as eight in the second before tallying the final four of the half and a 21-17 deficit. The key was a Crawfordsville 2-3 zone and switching to man-to-man at times.
“Last year we did the same thing. Played them 2-3 because we didn’t feel we could get up and down with them. That’s where they excel at.”
The hosts turned the tables some in the third quarter, starting on a 7-2 run for their first lead of the game. Two straight baskets by Drake Burris put his team up 24-23 with 4:45 left. After the Bruins responded with a couple baskets, including a three, senior Cale Coursey hit consecutive shots to knot it at 28 with 2:02 remaining in the frame.
However, the offense stalled once more and Tri-West led 33-28 heading into the final eight minutes.
Pierce’s squad had chances in the fourth, closing to three points on a couple occasions and even two late.
In the final minute, down 45-42, the Athenians had two opportunities to tie. The latter one tried to convert a Bruins missed free throw. After a timeout, again, they had a good look, but Burris missed a three. After a Wes Ward free throw with 17 seconds left upped the Bruins lead to 46-42, Burris nailed a runner and it was 46-44 with 3.8 to go. Grant Oldham sealed the deal with two free throws after Crawfordsville was forced to foul on the inbounds.
“Late I thought we had some guys step up and score. We were right there. We just have to execute on offense and finish the play.”
Tri-West was playing without star Max Robertson, who was out sick. Crawfordsville center Alec Saidian also was limited due to illness.
“It hurt because Alec was under the weather. I was just happy he gave us the minutes he did. I wish it was different, but it is what it is.”
The defense altered the success of the Bruin offense throughout the game, which also counts on the outside shot.
“We got out to the shooters, but we got beat on the boards too. It’s hard to block out in a zone. But I was proud how we got them to take the shots we wanted them to take. We just didn’t score enough.”
Coursey had 13 points and six rebounds on his final night on the home floor. Burris added 11 and Tyson Fuller eight.
Oldham topped Tri-West (9-10, 2-3) with 13. Ward had 12 and Drew Miller 10.
The shooting woes were 17-of-36 overall, but an improved 11-21 in the second half. Tri-West outrebounded the Athenians 29-22.
Friday also was senior night honoring Coursey, Zeke Cardenas, Kaiden Underwood and Blake Pruett. All four started the game. Senior managers and cheerleaders also were recognized. For coaches, it is always a bittersweet ceremony.
“Blake, Zeke and Kaiden have had roles at different times this year. They mean a lot to us and make us so much better. Man, has Cale had some great games in this gym. We’ve been fortunate with the seniors that have come through this program. They’re great people and their families are fantastic.”
After four away games before this home contest, it is back on the road for the Athenians for the next three. The stretch starts tonight at Parke Heritage, which took Fountain Central to the limit Friday.
“We have to get over this. We play on an elementary floor tomorrow which is eight feet shorter. They’re young, but they’re talented and we’re going to have our hands full. This stretch is tough. It’ll get us ready for sectionals and we need to find a way to stay positive.”
TRI-WEST 48, CRAWFORDSVILLE 44
Score By Quarter
TW 14 7 10 17 — 48
CHS 8 9 11 16— 44
Tri-West (9-10, 2-4 SAC)
FG-FGA FT-FTA Pts: Grant Oldham 3-7 4-4 13, Drew Miller 4-9 1-2 10, Ian Rench 1-6, 1-2 4, Jimmy Sorgi 1-3 0-0 3, Wes Ward 5-7 2-3 12, Landon Gardner 0-4 0-0 0, Griffin Cole 3-5 0-0 6; Totals 17-41 8-11 48
Crawfordsville (8-10, 3-3 SAC)
Cale Coursey 4-7 5-8 13, Drake Burris 5-8 0-0 10, Ethan McLemore 1-5 2-4 4, Tyson Fuller 3-4 2-2 8, Ezekiel Cardenas 0-0 0-0 0, Kaden Patton 1-7 0-0 2, Kaiden Underwood 0-0 0-0 0, Alec Saidian 2-4 0-0 4, Blake Pruett 1-1 0-0 2; Totals 17-36 9-14 44
3 pt shooting: TW 6-18 (Oldham 3), CHS 1-11 (Burris)
Rebounding: TW 29 (Ward 9, Miller 5, Sorgi 4), CHS 22 (Coursey 6, McLemore 4, Fuller 4, Patton 4)
Turnovers: TW 9, CHS 8