Cougars score plenty to upend rival Crawford
Any time you put Crawford County and North Harrison on a field, course or court, you can expect a serious battle between the two rivals who never hold anything back when it comes to competition against each other.
The annual meeting between the two boys’ basketball teams took place Friday night in the North Harrison gymnasium, and, after 32 minutes, it was the Cougars who came out on top, outgunning the Wolfpack for a 74-65 win.
‘I never felt like we were in the game tonight,’ Crawford County coach Levi Carmichael said. ‘Probably from a coaching perspective, I didn’t do a good enough job preparing them and getting them to understand the way we needed to play this game. That’s my responsibility as a coach, to make sure they understand to a man, to a person this is what we have to do to win the game. We weren’t prepared to do that tonight.’
‘Their program is in great hands,’ North Harrison coach Kevin Jones said of Crawford County. ‘Levi is going to do a great job down there. It’s hard coming in after (former) coach (Mike) Brown. I have respect for what coach Brown was able to do there, but their program is in good hands.’
The two teams swapped the lead back and forth in the opening minutes of the game, then North Harrison senior Alex Flock lit up, drilling his first three. Crawford County’s Brady Carlton countered with a three of his own.
Flock and Alex Eveslage ripped the nets again with three-balls for a 13-9 North Harrison lead. Crawford County’s Levi Schwartz and Josh Thomas scored in the paint to tie the game at 13. The quarter finished in a tie, with both teams showing 18 on the scoreboard.
Carmichael said he had some worries after that first eight minutes.
‘I felt like we might be in trouble when it was 18-18 at the end of the first quarter, just from a lot of things they were getting,’ he said. ‘Flock was getting not wide-open shots, but they’re definitely shots we want to try to prevent him from getting. Credit him; he hit some tough shots, but, at that point, when it was 18-18 and the pace was really high a lot of possessions, we were neglecting to play inside. Again, that goes to me because we didn’t stress it enough that we needed to play inside-out.’
Flock began the second period with another three, and Jake Book followed with a deuce. That led to a 9-0 run as the Cougars took a 27-18 lead. Flock later hit four straight free throws for a 34-23 lead.
Crawford County fought to reel in North Harrison. Carlton drilled a three, closing the gap to eight, then Brent Smith and Carlton converted a five-point play that pulled Crawford County back to within three, 34-31. North Harrison, however, canceled that out, and the Cougars took a 39-31 lead to the locker room at the break.
Jones knew several of Crawford County’s players, particularly Carlton, from when he coached at the school.
‘Brady Carlton was a 5-foot-2, 100-pound freshman point guard for me my last year there,’ Jones said. ‘Today’s, he’s as tough as anybody I’ve ever coached. It makes me happy to see the success he’s been able to have in his basketball career just because of that toughness. He’s worked his butt off, and he’s turned himself into a really good high school player. He’s their best player. He’s a glue guy. He does several things well. He’s a good kid to have as a senior leader on your team.’
Crawford County’s defense changed in the second half with junior Ty Nickelson taking over the assignment on Flock. The switch was effective as the Cougars’ senior failed to score in the third quarter. The Wolfpack stayed within striking distance of the Cougars, down just five at the end of the period, 50-45.
‘Ty really took the initiative that he wanted to step up and try his hand to stop him,’ Carmichael said. ‘If you’re talking about individual efforts, I think Ty did a tremendous job on him in the second half.’
Flock sank a pair of freebies to start the fourth quarter after Schwartz was whistled for his second foul. The Cougars completed an 8-2 run to extend their lead to 11, 58-47.
The Wolfpack made one final spurt in late in the period. Carlton sank another three, and Crawford County quickly called a timeout. Flock got one of two free throws, but Carlton and Jacob Sherron sank four straight from the charity stripe, cutting North Harrison’s lead to three.
From there, however, the Cougars scored the final six points of the game, going on to get the 74-65 win.
‘It was a back-and-forth (game),’ Jones said. ‘They cut it to one possession there in the last minute. We didn’t do a very good job of taking care of the basketball and had a couple of turnovers. They got some three-point plays and a three-point shot. That’s a staple of Crawford County basketball. They’re not going to go away.’
‘It comes down to you’ve got to make them,’ Carmichael said. ‘Especially on the road, you’re going to get fouled. You’re going to get bumped. You’re going to get hit. At times, we let frustration kick in. Instead of focusing on how to execute, maybe we’re focused on things we can’t control. You’ve got to control what you can control on the road. Again, that comes back to me probably not stressing that enough this week.’
Flock, who hit five three-pointers, led the Cougars with 28 points. Chandler Jenkins finished with 19 points, while Jake Troxell and Book had 11 each. North Harrison shot the ball well, hitting 20 of 35 field-goal attempts (57 percent) and 28 of 40 free throws. North Harrison had 15 turnovers.
‘When Alex is shooting like that, I feel like we’re in good shape, and Chandler played well, too,’ Jones said. ‘When both of those guys are clicking, I think we (have) a potential, if we do a better job guarding, of being very tough come sectional time. Our problem is we’ve never had a game where we’ve really played well together. We’ve had games like Madison and Charlestown where everybody played bad together, but we haven’t had that game yet where I’ve thought everybody just played outstanding. This is probably as close as what I think we’ve been.’
Carlton led the Wolfpack with 23 points with four three-pointers, and Schwartz finished with 15. Crawford County hit 20 of 48 from the field (42 percent) and 18 of 26 from the charity stripe. The Wolfpack had 13 turnovers.
‘I think Brady puts so much pressure on himself, that’s probably undoable a little bit,’ Carmichael said. ‘I don’t think it’s from a selfish point of view. It’s just from a matter of trying to make things happen sometimes. I thought, overall, as a team, North Harrison played more of their game than what we wanted to play. Obviously, scoring in the 70s is something we don’t try to do very much. A lot of that was due to what they were doing.’
‘This will get us ready for sectional,’ Jones said. ‘Unfortunately, we don’t get to play sectional here, because we’re 7-1, I think. But we play better at home. Our home crowds have been good, and the support we’ve got from our community has been good. I knew Crawford would bring a big crowd that they always do. It was a good, tough game that will get us ready for whoever we draw in the sectional in a couple of weeks.’
Crawford County had a quick turnaround, with the Wolfpack playing at noon the next day in Indianapolis at Bankers Life Fieldhouse against potential sectional opponent Henryville. Crawford County rebounded to get a 44-41 win against the Hornets.
Crawford County 18 13 14 20 ‘ 65
North Harrison 18 21 11 24 ‘ 74
Crawford County (13-6) ‘ Sherron 9, Smith 8, Carlton 23, Nickelson 2, Schwartz 15, Thomas 4, Dearborn 4
North Harrison (11-6) ‘ Flock 28, Troxell 11, Jenkins 19, Book 11, Eveslage 5
3-point goals ‘ Crawford County 7 (Carlton 4, Smith 2, Carlton 4, Schwartz); North Harrison 6 (Flock 5, Eveslage).