Late trey lifts Crawford over Lady Cats
Crawford County coach Alan Cox told his team before the going into battle against rival North Harrison for the opening round of the Class 3A Silver Creek Sectional that it had to weather the storm.
The Lady Pack did just that, rallying to beat North Harrison, 59-53, after trailing a majority of the game Thursday.
In the fourth quarter, North Harrison pulled ahead by the widest margin, 46-39, with a pair of Kelsey Brunner free throws with five minutes to play. From there, Crawford County went on an 8-0 run to plunge ahead, 47-46.
Inside a minute to play, North Harrison’s Deidre Book swished a pair of free throws to tie the game at 53. Then, with 21 seconds to play, Crawford County skipped the ball outside to Katie Broughton. The junior nailed a 3-pointer, launching the Lady Pack to the lead.
North Harrison turned the ball over on its next possession, allowing Crawford County to seal the game with free throws by Ashley Forbes and Kimberly Holzbog.
‘They never quit tonight, and I told the kids to just weather the storm because it was going to be a game of runs,’ Cox said. ‘The girls kept their composure and battled back.’
Both teams battled through a lengthy game that approached the two-hour mark by the final horn. A total of 73 free-throw attempts were put up, with North Harrison completing 26 of 40 and Crawford County making 15 of 33.
North Harrison, which had trouble maintaining possession of the ball during the course of the game, finished with 27 turnovers. In the first quarter, the Lady Cats coughed up the ball nine times but managed an 11-7 lead. Caitlyn Janes and Brunner hit 3-pointers in the opening quarter, contributing to the lead.
‘Twenty-seven turnovers for the game,’ North Harrison coach Hal Pearson said. ‘When you have that, you aren’t going to win too many ball games.’
Broughton came up with big shots in the second quarter as well, opening the frame with two consecutive long balls. The shots gave Crawford County a brief, 13-11 lead.
North Harrison battled back to embark on an 8-0 run fueled by points from Emily Giles, Book, Janes and Brunner. The spurt helped North Harrison take a 25-20 lead into halftime.
The second half belonged to Crawford County junior Kayla Toney. She scored 10 of her game-high 25 points during the third quarter to keep the Lady Pack close.
‘We knew we were going to see a mix of junk defenses against North Harrison,’ Cox said. ‘Hal’s team does a nice job mixing it up, and we were prepared for it. A lot of teams are trying to stop Chelsea Jellison, but the girls alongside her really stepped up, including Toney.’
Back-to-back Book field goals helped give North Harrison a 39-35 lead after three quarters.
‘They did a good job beating us to the post in the second half,’ Pearson said. ‘We tried to deny over the top and they still got it in. We told them to stay behind them, and we got beat that way. Toney and Broughton just beat us tonight.’
In the fourth quarter, Crawford County outscored North Harrison, 24-14. A 7-1 run early in the fourth quarter gave North Harrison a 46-39 lead that would eventually disappear. North Harrison struggled at the line and had trouble rebounding in the final five minutes.
‘We done that a lot this year,’ Pearson said. ‘We struggled at times finishing it out. We missed some free throws during a big stretch. We missed four straight free-throw rebounds on their end, and eventually they got a 3-point play out of it. It is just something simple, rebounding and free throws.’
Crawford County hit its free throws at the end of the game. Inside 1:25 to play, they made good on 7 of 8 attempts.
Cox said his team maintained composure throughout and weathered the storm.
‘I just felt like we had nothing to lose,’ the first-year coach said. ‘We come in here 8-12, and no one else in the sectional has much of a better record. We just had nothing to lose but to play hard.’
Cox said a key was recent games moved due to snow.
‘Our last three games were against a Corydon team that is better than their record shows, a tough Eastern (Pekin) team, and finish against a really good South Central team,’ Cox said. ‘Against South Central, we decided to press them to see how we’d match up. I thought we had enough success against them to use it here tonight.’
Toney finished with 25 points, and Broughton added 15. Forbes closed the game with seven points, and Jellison had six.
For North Harrison, Book led the Lady Cats with 13 points, and Brunner added 10. The defending sectional champions will graduate four seniors: Vicky Summers, Book, Janes and Brunner.
‘I told the seniors that they played hard,’ Pearson said. ‘We came out prepared well, and we just had lapses down the stretch on some execution things. If we do those things, maybe we’re on the winning side of things.’
North Harrison finishes the year 7-14.
Crawford County advanced to face Silver Creek in the semi-final.