Pack in mid-season form in 72-54 rout
Crawford County’s boys basketball team didn’t leave much room for improvement this year after its season-opener against South Central on Saturday night in Marengo.
The Wolfpack shot a blazing 25 of 47 from the field, including 6 of 11 from three-point range, and kept the visitors from controlling the tempo by using a methodical ball-control offense in the second half.
Crawford slowly pulled away after a 16-all tie in the first quarter and wound up cruising, 72-54.
Wolfpack senior guard Kenny Hunt led the winners with 22 points. Kellen Brown added 18 and three three-pointers and Paul Broughton muscled his way inside to the tune of 13 points.
‘The number of people we’ve got as shooters, when we run our offense and get them toed to the line, they’re going to hit a good percentage of those shots,’ Crawford coach Otis Broughton said. ‘We have six guys that you’ve got to guard. If you don’t, we can hit. We don’t have a lot of size, so we have to play position-obsession basketball. If we play our positions and have our positions, it’s going to be a good outcome for us.
‘We really worked on playing their defense. They play a really good 1-3-1, but, man, did we exploit that. We had worked all week on that, because I know that’s a primary, fundamental defense. We shot the ball well and moved it to the open man.’
Neither club had much momentum early in the scrum, as there were seven lead changes in the first quarter. The biggest run by either team came in the last 3:46, where Crawford went on a 9-3 spurt capped by a bucket at the first quarter buzzer by senior Mikel Breeden.
South was kept in the game early by senior Brad Brown, who bombed three threes to keep the Rebels tied at the first stop, 16-all.
Kellen Brown swished a three to start the second period, where the Wolfpack was able to open up a 10-point lead after Hunt hit a three with 5:22 showing.
Down by 12 with 3:58 left in the half, the Rebels had to rely on their defense to get back in the game. The club forced a trio of turnovers and closed the first half on a 8-2 run on points from Brad Mercer, Chad McRae and Ben Hanus to trim the shortcoming to 36-30.
‘They defended us really well for the most part,’ South Central coach Greg Robinson said. ‘We didn’t recognize where the basketball should have gone. We didn’t get it inside like I’d have liked to the first half. We hit some three’s early and may have got caught up in looking for that a little bit too much. We should be able to shoot the basketball a little better than we did. We just didn’t execute very well. We’ll just go back to square one and work on the fundamentals next week.’
Things didn’t improve offensively for the visitors in the second half, where South struggled to a 6-27 mark from the field and 1-8 on three-pointers.
Meanwhile Crawford kept up its hot shooting by going 6-11 from the floor in the third period to pull away to a 54-40 lead at the end of three periods. The only thing left in doubt in the fourth quarter was how wide the final margin would be.
‘We had a good stretch of basketball at the end of the second quarter,’ Robinson said.
‘At the end of the third quarter, we weren’t playing too terribly bad. We didn’t get the ball into the basket as much as I would have liked, but we were moving well. When they put it on us, we just fell apart. We’re going to get tested. I think we’re good, but we’ve got to be ready to play hard every game or we won’t be there.’
Broughton was very impressed with his club’s play on the defensive side of the ball.
‘The biggest improvement I see over this team from last year is our ability to defend. Last year, Chris Broughton, Craig Adams, Mikel Breeden, they just couldn’t really defend,’ Broughton said. ‘But we’re a year older and a little taller, and we’re able to defend with those people, and that makes all the difference in the world. We’re maturing. We’re not where we want to be, but we’ve got a good start, and if we keep working hard, we’ll have a pretty good ball team.’
And while Adam Newton only scored four points on the night for Crawford, Broughton heaped a huge scoop of praise on the junior.
‘Adam Newton is playing the best basketball he’s played in his career. Without his play tonight at the point position, we’re not as good. He did a lot of good things for us. You don’t see that unless you’re at the basketball game. He did a very good job of handling that position for us,’ the Wolfpack’s skipper said.
South, which shot a respectable 11 of 21 from the floor in the first half, wound up a dismal 17 of 48 for the game. The Rebels cleaned the glass of three more rebounds, 31-28, but committed two more turnovers, 20-18.
The Rebels got 10 players in the scoring line and were led by senior guard Brad Mercer, who pitched in 13 points. Brad Brown scored 10, Chad McRae came off the bench for 10 and Hanus wound up with seven.
‘We’ve never really fared real well down here,’ Robinson said. ‘It’s just another one. I feel bad because I’m not sure we were really prepared. I know it didn’t look like we were prepared for what they could do. Right now, we’ve got a lot of work (to do) on our footwork, and they took advantage of that. They took it right to us like we wanted to do to them. They did a better job,’ Robinson said. ‘A group of kids like this, there’s such a fine line for us. As a coach and players we have to be really ready. I don’t think I was and, obviously, we really weren’t as a team. We’ll just lick our wounds and get ready for Lanesville. They’re going to be pretty good, too.’
Crawford County returns to its home floor Friday night in a scrap against Floyd Central.
South Central will return to action this weekend as well, taking to the friendly confines of its own hardwood in Elizabeth as Lanesville makes a call in a non-conference matchup on Saturday evening.