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Crawford pounds Rebels 94-65 in season opener

The Crawford County boys’ basketball team got off to a rousing start as the Wolfpack pounded visiting South Central 94-65 in Crawford’s 2007-08 season opener.
‘South Central has a nice team, a lot of good athletes,’ said Crawford coach Mike Brown in his debut. ‘They’ve got guards that get after you. I thought they did a great job. We just had a 3-A bench and that’s what you’re going to face. A bigger school is going to have more kids who can contribute, and it eventually wore them down a little bit. But they did a nice job, too.’
‘When the times get tough, you’ve got to come together as a team and play as one,’ said South Central coach Rob Murawski. ‘We just didn’t do that.’
Crawford got off to a slow start while the Rebels had some hot hands. South Central raced out to a 24-12 lead before the Wolfpack could gather themselves back in. Spencer Griswold got a deuce in the last minute, and Dustin Bowling added a single at the end, cutting the Rebel lead to nine by the end of the first period.
‘It took a while to get our timing down, and South Central showed they can play the game,’ Brown said. ‘I thought they started the game really well. They were fresh. And when they were fresh, they were too quick at the wings for us to get back on pressure-wise in our press. When we softened our press up some, we wanted to try to keep it in front of us instead of trap them. It helped us a lot.’
The second quarter was the turning point in the game as Crawford began to take the ball inside and slowly eat away at the Rebels’ lead. With three minutes to go before halftime, Andrew Curl scored twice inside pulling Crawford within three, 32-29. Daniel Allen added a triple, and the game was tied at 32. With just under a minute to go, Brett Dixon sank a pair of free throws for a two-point Rebels lead. That disappeared in the last 30 seconds, however, as the Wolfpack scored the last five points.
The Rebels hit just 1-of-8 field goal attempts in the second quarter while Crawford got 8-of-15.
‘We got to the free-throw line a lot,’ said Murawski. ‘We had several missed layups that could have changed that quarter. You’ve got to withstand runs, and we didn’t do it.’
‘Defensively, I thought we got better as the game went along,’ Brown said. ‘Once they got to 20 points, and they got those quick and easy, I thought we really settled down and made it hard for them to score from that point on. We did a better job the second half of not fouling.’
Brown said his team was also doing well adjusting to a whole new series of plays they had just seen in the last week.
‘These guys aren’t even running the same inbounds plays they ran this summer,’ he said. ‘The press is completely different. Our defense is similar, but there’s always a difference in how you play man-to-man. Everything we’re doing is brand new, and we’ve had 12 practices.’
The two teams played tight through the opening minutes of the third period with four lead changes in the first three minutes. Evan Crecelius buried a three-ball to start a 9-2 run. Cody Jobe scored for the Rebels, but the Wolfpack countered with another 8-2 burst for a 57-46 Wolfpack advantage after three quarters. The fourth quarter was all Crawford, which outscored the Rebels 37-19 for a 57-point second half, the Wolfpack blasting away to a 94-65 win.
‘When you get people tired and you’re still putting the pressure on them with fresh guys, they’re going to make mistakes,’ Brown said. ‘We would do the same thing. The best thing we did the second half was when we got steals or fast breaks, we made good passes and made good decisions and found the open man. Early in the game we tried to force things a little bit.’
‘We really didn’t continue to play as a team,’ said a disappointed Murawski. ‘Crawford County, give them a lot of credit. They did a good job of slowing us down, but we just didn’t come together.’
Dustin Bowling led the Wolfpack scoring with 21 points, and Spencer Griswold followed with 16 on the night. Bo Benham hit for 12, and Andrew Curl came off the bench for 11 points. Crawford was 33 of 59 (56 percent) from the field and 23 of 35 from the free-throw line. The Wolfpack played all 10 players and had just six turnovers for the 32 minutes.
‘We do have 10 kids we can play, and we’re not going to hesitate to play them,’ said Brown. ‘They can all score. We’re not the quickest at every position through those 10, but we can do some things good at every spot.’
Cody Jobe led the Rebels with 19 points, and Dylan Carpenter came off the bench for 13 for the game. South Central also shot well from the field, hitting 25-of-46 (54 percent) but hit 10-of-21 free throws. The Rebels’ big difference was turnovers with 23 for the four quarters. Murawski took the blame for Crawford’s big second half.
‘I kind of let it go,’ he said. ‘We’ve got to send them a message to our team that we’ve got to get together as one. It’s tough to sit there and watch for all of us.’
‘We’ll come back and practice hard,’ said Murawski. ‘We’ve got Cannelton Saturday, and it’s going to be tough going down there playing. We can’t take anything for granted.’
Both teams had 31 points from their respective benches. Brown said seeing the depth his team has means he will be able to put a lot of bodies on the floor, a lot of pressure on the ball, and get up and down the floor like most of his teams have done in the past.
‘I don’t have any complaints,’ Brown said. ‘The kids love to play that way. They want to get up and down the floor. Our guys know it doesn’t matter who starts because three minutes into the game you’re going in.’
‘I think that is a fun way for everybody to get involved and feel like they have a role,’ said Brown. ‘We’re not going to be a five-player team, that’s for sure. It’s going to be two sets of five. We’ve got a long way to go, and we’ve got plenty of time to get there. We’ve told ourselves we were not going to hurry, and we’re going to take things as they come and try to get better every day.’