SUGAR CREEK CLASSIC PREVIEW


Friday night the Boys Sugar Creek Classic will make its much anticipated return after a year off due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Crawfordsville and North Montgomery will square off for the second time in three weeks as the Athenians and Chargers will square off in the second game of the 15th annual Sugar Creek Classic at Crawfordsville High School on Friday night at 7:30.


Crawfordsville and North Montgomery met up back on Dec. 17 where the Athenians after a slow start in the first half, cruised in the second half to a 54-34 win.


Both teams are carrying some momentum in the matchup as the 6-2 Athenians are currently on a five-game winning streak, and the Chargers (1-8) are coming off their first win of the season, a 47-31 win over Sheridan.


Longtime Athenian coach David Pierce talked about the return of the Classic and how his guys are prepping for a competitive tournament.


“We know that we’re going to have to play our A-game and play for all four quarters,” Pierce said. “It was disappointing to not be able to have it a season ago and that was one of our first goals was to win it. I’m really excited for our guys to get to experience it once again. It’s going to be a great crowd and we have to take full advantage of this. Our kids work to play to play in environments like this and we’re looking forward to it.”


The Chargers meanwhile will look to put a complete 32-minute game together, something that coach Chad Arnold has been looking for this season. He knows it’ll be another challenge with Athenians on Friday.


“Getting that win for the guys was exciting and I’m excited to see how our guys respond,” Arnold said. “Crawfordsville presents some challenges for us. We played a really good first half the last time we played them, so we’re looking to build off that and play a complete 32 on Friday.”


Those challenges for the Chargers played out in the last matchup as Mekhi Wallace was able to record his best game of the season scoring 18 points while going a perfect 9-9 from the field and also grabbed nine rebounds. Ian Hensley led CHS with 19 in the Dec. 17 win.


Pierced mentioned his team’s current five game winning streak and how this tournament can continue to build momentum for his team as they head into the middle of their season.


“It’s easy to compliment our guys right now because we’re on a roll,” Pierce said. “We played really well at Speedway and at West Lafayette and felt really good after those games. We treat the season into thirds and we thought we had a great first third of the season, now we start another stretch and hope to put together another decent run. We’re playing with a lot of confidence and our guys are just ready to go.”


While not having a Sugar Creek Classic a season ago, most of North Montgomery’s players will be experiencing this tournament for the first time. That isn’t what Arnold is worried about for his team as their focus continues to be to get better each and every day.


“We’re just trying to get better at what we do and what we can control,” Arnold said. “If we do that then everything else will take care of itself. This will be a new experience for everybody as we don’t have anyone whose played in this tournament. I’m just treating and our team has to treat it as just another game.”


The Chargers are led out by the sharpshooting duo of Jakob and Jarrod Kirsch, but freshman Kelby Harwood has come along quite nicely for the Chargers as well scoring 12 in their win over the Blackhawks.


After losing two years ago to Western Boone in the championship game of the Classic, coupled with not having it a season ago, Pierce and his squad are looking to as he says ‘get the sour taste out of their mouths’.


“Coach Froedge used to talk about how winning breeds winning,” Pierce said. “When you win a tournament like this, it starts to have a snowball effect and a championship would be huge for us. It would build even more confidence for us going into what’s a pretty long stretch of basketball.”


The winner between the Athenians and Chargers will play in Saturday nights championship game against the winner of Western Boone and Southmont. The Chargers enter looking for their sixth SCC title, while the Athenians are in search of their fourth.