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Crawford trims rival NH in barn burner, 62-59

Friday night’s rivalry matchup between Crawford County and visiting North Harrison gave fans their money’s worth as the two teams went through a typical knock-down, drag-out game for bragging rights. By the time the smoke had cleared, the Wolfpack had nosed out a 62-59 win.
‘That was the Hatfields and the McCoys, a backyard brawl,’ Crawford coach Mike Ray said. ‘I want to credit North Harrison for coming in here with their record. They’re getting Josh Kidd back, and that’s going to make a big difference in their team.’
‘It was a very good ball game of two teams that I thought played extremely hard,’ North Harrison coach Rick Snodgrass said. ‘I was real proud of how we battled. We’re kind of like starting over, because we’re getting used to our big boys back in there again. I was really proud of how all eight of our kids really did something positive on the court tonight.’
Crawford got a 6-0 start, but North Harrison made it clear it was fighting for honor as Cody Johnson knocked down a deuce and three to start a 10-4 run to tie the game. The Wolfpack finished out the period with six unanswered points for a 16-10 advantage.
Nick Howerton pushed Crawford’s lead to eight to start the second period, but the Cougars countered with seven unanswered points to close the gap to one.
Crawford answered with seven straight points, but North Harrison again marched back to within three, as Tyler Brunner got a three-ball and Jim Bob Schuler sank a pair of free throws.
The half ended with Crawford holding a 29-24 edge.
‘I want to work on the positives,’ Snodgrass said. ‘The positives are, I think you saw that we’re a much different club when we’ve got everybody back. They came ready to play. They were focused and their effort was outstanding. The little things we continue to work on and do it every day, and you’ve just got to continue to do it.’
‘Anytime you have a rivalry you just throw away the records,’ Ray said. ‘Their eyeballs had to be as big as silver dollars coming in here knowing they had a chance to win. They were well prepared and played extremely well. Both teams played a magnificent floor game.’
Crawford missed its first four shots to start the second half, while Brunner and Kidd fired up a pair of deuces to close the gap to one.
Wyatt Sillings and Nick Howerton pushed Crawford’s lead back to six, but the Cougars finished out the last two minutes with an 8-0 run to take a 39-37 lead after three quarters.
Ray said Kidd was tough to handle, especially in the third quarter.
‘He’s big and strong, and they were going to him,’ Ray said. ‘I’m happy he’s getting Josh Kidd back, because when you’ve been in coaching as long as I have, you understand the importance of having a player the quality of Josh Kidd. North Harrison is going to play some good basketball the rest of the season.’
Kidd scored inside twice for a 43-37 Cougar lead two minutes into the fourth period. Sillings countered with a short jumper and Lyndon Jones drilled a three-ball to close the Crawford deficit to one. The teams then traded baskets until Jones got a deuce at 3:38 to put Crawford on top again, 51-49.
Both teams fought to stand their ground like two sumo wrestlers. Following a deuce by Rogers, a double foul was called on Kidd and Crawford’s Spencer Griswold as both tried to keep the same piece of real estate. Kidd pulled the Cougars back within two, but Jones drilled another three to counter. David Geswein, Johnson and Kidd each got one of two singles to close the gap to two, 56-54 with 1:10 remaining.
Crawford had a chance to extend its lead, but Rogers and Bobby Berry missed the front ends of bonus free throws. Sillings finally got two singles to go down, but Brunner negated those with a 6-foot deuce.
With 20 seconds to go, Jones made two free throws for a 60-56 Crawford lead, but Johnson quickly countered with a three to close the gap to one. At the 10-second mark Jones got two more singles for a 62-59 Wolfpack lead.
North Harrison’s Jordan Byrne got a good look at a final three, but it bounced right as Crawford escaped with the three-point win.
‘There’s a lot of little things you can talk about the game,’ Snodgrass said. ‘We missed a lot of shots in the paint. We missed free throws. But in the same mode, even with that we get beat by three points.
‘The two things we’ve worked on all the time are free throws and rebounding. For the most part we did pretty good rebounding all night. We had 19 offensive boards, but they killed us on those two block-outs on the free throws. We missed free throws ourselves. You put those two together and that’s the ball game.’
Benham led the Wolfpack with 18 points, and Jones followed with 15. Crawford was 21 of 45 (46 percent) from the field, cashed in 15 of 28 free throws, and had eight turnovers.
‘Our kids stayed in the buggy, and I was pleased statistically with what we did tonight,’ Ray said. ‘We finally outrebounded somebody. We outrebounded North Harrison 28-21. I thought that was a big step. Late in the game with about a minute to go, we missed a couple of free throw block-outs These are things we can’t afford to do at this time of the year.’
The Cougars put four players in double figures, with Kidd leading the way with 14 points. Johnson finished with 13, and Brunner scored 12 on the night. Schuler added 10 points for North Harrison, who was 18 of 46 (39 percent) on field goals, 10 of 12 on free throws, and committed 11 turnovers.
With the last part of the season quickly closing in, both teams are working to hopefully hand out some surprises in the final tournament.
‘We’ll go back Monday and continue to work the next four games toward the sectional,’ Snodgrass said. ‘Our kids never got down this year from their record. To me that shows a lot of character of the kids. Tonight showed that.’