Crawford County rallies past Lady Cats
Wade Bell, Sports Writer
The Crawford County Lady Pack started their road game on Nov. 19 against rival North Harrison in the mud, spinning their wheels but grabbed a gear and some traction and rallied back for a 55-44 win.
The Lady Cats struggled against Crawford County’s scrappiness and brutal defense, leaving the Lady Cats’ coaching staff to go back to the drawing board.
“We got in foul trouble, and that seems to be the issue we’ve had so far in the first couple of games,” said North Harrison assistant coach Liz Geltmaker. “We started out strong, and I think they got a little over-excited because we were playing well and started reaching, trying to create more turnovers, and that’s where the wheels started to fall off for us a little bit.”
“Give our kids a lot of credit,” said Crawford County coach Chris Broughton, whose team is ranked 8th in Class 2A. “I thought the start of the game was going to be really important tonight. We didn’t start the way we wanted to but, again, give our kids a lot of credit for digging in and battling. I think we were down three at the end of the first quarter, but we battled back and we rallied back late in the first half and tied it up at halftime.”
The Lady Cats came out firing on all cylinders to begin the game and raced out to a 9-2 lead midway through the period. Lexie Fraime finally got a shot to go down for the Lady Pack, but that was immediately negated by a bucket by Diana Burgher to keep the Lady Cats out in front by seven. Crawford County then converted off two Lady Cats’ turnovers, with Sarah Stutzman and Brooke Elliott scoring in the paint.
Minutes later, Elliott got two from the charity stripe to close the gap to one, 11-10.
North Harrison center Lucy Robertson scored at the end of the period, and the Lady Cats had a 13-10 edge after the first eight minutes.
Both teams were hit with fouls during the first quarter. Crawford County defensive specialist Gabi Gaines picked up two quick ones and the Lady Cats had three players struggling with infractions.
“Defensively, we were struggling trying to match up,” said Geltmaker. “We were in foul trouble also. We had three girls with three fouls in the first half, and we had another girl that ended up getting a third. The foul troubles for us killed us.”
“As far as having Gabi out of the game, all of them were really scrappy, so I don’t think having her out made any difference for us because they were more aggressive and they hustled,” she said. “We just really didn’t do that tonight.”
Burgher kept the Lady Cats out in front of Crawford County through the first part of the second quarter, then Elliott put in a pair of freebies and a deuce to put Crawford County up by two, 19-17.
Lily Moore scored twice for the Lady Cats in response, and Addison Beyerle added two for a four-point North Harrison edge. Treasure Nickelson scored inside, and Elliott drilled home the only three-pointer of the game, pushing Crawford County back in front. Chloe Jacobi put in a deuce-and-one, but Stutzman scored in the paint for the Lady Pack, leaving the game tied at 26 at halftime.
“We felt good going into halftime,” said Broughton. “Give our kids a lot credit of digging in and not quitting. I think that comes from being at Pekin, playing against Heritage Hills, playing in the (Corydon Central) tournament. We’ve been in that situation before this season. We may not have been playing well, but I don’t think we ever got rattled or anything like that. … ”
Geltmaker said the half-time talk was mostly about guarding the paint better and controlling Crawford County forward Nickelson.
“It was to make sure that we blocked out and we knew where (Nickelson) was throughout the game,” Geltmaker said. “It didn’t seem to catch in their brains because (Nickelson) controlled the middle. She played well, and they outhustled us. … ”
Nickelson did control the paint for the Lady Pack in the second half. The Crawford County junior scored the first two points of the third quarter that began a long swap meet for the two teams with four more ties coming at 28, 30, 31 and 33. For the next two minutes, both teams struggled with turnovers. Jacobi finally sank a short jumper, but Nickelson got loose inside again for two, and the quarter ended in a 35-35 tie.
The wheels came completely off the Lady Cats in the fourth with Crawford County scoring the first five points; Nickelson scored twice inside. Burgher put in a North Harrison deuce, but Crawford County countered with six straight free throws for a 46-37 lead. Robertson canned a pair of Lady Cats’ freebies, but Elliott cashed in four straight from the charity stripe. Fouls became too much for North Harrison with Ali Saunders and Burgher finally fouling out and Crawford County going on to close out the 55-44 win.
“In the first quarter, they were already in the bonus at the very end and, in the third quarter, they were in the bonus again,” said Geltmaker. “So, it makes it very difficult when we can’t quit fouling.”
“We have to be a team that always outscraps the other team and gets loose balls and rebounds and (wins) hustle plays,” Broughton said. “That’s us. That’s our identity. I think once we got it going a little bit, it’s contagious. You see one person dive on the floor or get a loose ball, and everybody wants to get in on it. That was a big point in the second half there; we just outscrapped them.”
Nickelson led the Lady Pack with 22 points, and Elliott finished with 17. Crawford County put in 16 of 43 field-goal attempts (37%) and 24 of 38 free throws. The Lady Pack had 21 turnovers in the up-and-down game.
“We didn’t miss all of them in the fourth quarter like we did earlier,” Broughton said of his team’s free-throw shooting. “I think a little bit of that is attributed to fatigue. We played three games this weekend, and we’re playing tonight. Treasure, for example; Treasure’s not going to come out of the game unless she’s in foul trouble. She plays the whole time and is fatigued, and I think that’s a little bit of our free-throw situation. But, Gaines stepped up there in the fourth quarter and made two big free throws where she didn’t do that earlier.”
Broughton said Elliott is doing a better job of learning what her role is, especially when Crawford County gets into a free-throw situation.
“Going back to the Heritage Hills game with her, she kind of learned, ‘I’ve got to go get the ball. I need to have the ball in my hands. I’m our best free-throw shooter,’ and she did that,” said the Lady Pack coach. “We drew up some out-of-bounds plays for us to get her the basketball, and she converted them when we needed her to. That’s being a senior. I think she realized looking at the scoreboard and, ‘This is my opportunity. This is the last time I get to play North Harrison,’ and she played well down the stretch.”
Burgher led the Lady Cats with 18 points, while Saunders was held to just seven for the game. North Harrison was just 14 of 45 (31%) from the field and 14 of 22 from the free-throw line. North Harrison had 23 turnovers for the game, most of those coming in the first half.
“We feel like we’ve got a two-headed monster in Gabi and Autumn (Schigur),” Broughton said. “Gabi went down (with fouls), but give our two guards so much credit for what they did on Saunders tonight. They were finding her in transition. They found her on out-of-bounds plays. There were times when (Gaines) got in the lane, and she dug in and stole it. That’s Gabi and Autumn. We really felt like she’s not going to see defense like that from a lot of teams. So, I’m really proud of those two for what they did against a really great guard. She’s one of the best point guards we’re going to see all season … ”
Geltmaker said the Lady Cats will have to do some extra work on moving and cutting down on the fouls.
“We’ve practiced quite a bit about moving our feet and not reaching,” she said. “We’ve got to keep practicing that and also making those girls in practice play more like a game situation than just going through the motions. I think sometimes that creates bad habits.”
Broughton said his team has done a good job through the first phase of the season, which has been a tough schedule. He said he wants to see his team make a good run through December to Christmas break before getting another tough run in January.
“This phase has got to lead us into December and give us some confidence,” Broughton said. “We’re going to actually be able to take some days off here coming up. We’ve just been kind of going fast and furious with games and tough games we’ve really got to prepare for. So, we’ll be able to rest and be able to take a little time off. This has got to propel you into your next few games. You look at a lot of teams in Southern Indiana; nobody starts off as tough as we do. North Harrison, they start off tough but it’s got to propel you to the rest of your season. It can only give you confidence.”
Crawford County 10 16 9 20 – 55
North Harrison 13 13 9 9 – 44
Crawford County (5-2) – Schigur 1, Stutzman 6, Gaines 2, Elliott 17, Nickelson 22, Fraime 3, Herbaugh 4.
North Harrison (2-2) – Saunders 7, Moore 4, Jacobi 7, Burgher 18, Beyerle 2, L. Robertson 6.
3-point goals – Crawford County 1 (Elliott 1).
Photo by Wade Bell