Crawford County slams Rebels
Wade Bell, Clarion News
That was pretty much the pace of Saturday night’s boys’ basketball game between Crawford County and visiting South Central at the Ron Ferguson Gymnasium. For at least three quarters, everything was seen as a blur before it slowed down somewhat in the fourth quarter with the Wolfpack overpowering the Rebels in a 72-44 shellacking.
“Colten (Nickelson) … was sitting at the scorer’s table getting ready to go back in with one of the South Central players at the same time,” said Crawford County head coach Jerry Hanger. “The South Central player asked him what kind of conditioning program we run because they were exhausted. Our goal is we just don’t want to lose a game because we’re out of shape at the end of the game. If we can wear the other team down, this was in the first half, if we can wear the other team down, so be it.”
“We want to play fast,” said South Central coach Greg Robinson. “They do too but, at a certain point, you’ve got to slow down and be under control, and we didn’t slow down and get under control a lot of times, especially in the first half.”
Both teams came literally flying out of the gates, but Crawford County was a little faster with the Wolfpack running to an 11-2 lead. Austin Tyree finally got a Rebels’ three-ball to fall, but Noah Adams countered in the paint. Wesley Wilson snagged a Rebels’ three, but Nickelson and Preston Coleman drilled shots from behind the arc for a 19-8 Crawford County lead. The two teams traded baskets before the end of the quarter, with the Wolfpack leading 21-10 after the first eight minutes.
“We wanted to attack their zone press a little better and get it to guys who could just go to the rim and attack the rim against them,” said Robinson. “We were a little hesitant to do that, and I think they made an adjustment to keep them from taking the ball where we were taking it. Then, we didn’t use all of our options against their press. We really thought we could get some points off their press. That was the hope, and we put two people in the high post and it’s easy to see it when you’re not playing against them, who have very active hands, long.”
“I thought it was very fast early on,” said Hanger. “There was a lot of crazy stuff going on, but we were coming out on the better end of it. I thought Colten Nickelson controlled everything underneath the basket early on. It pretty well set the tempo. They didn’t get anything easy. That forced them to have to shoot from the outside, which they didn’t shoot the ball well and that fell into our hands a little bit.”
The Rebels continued to keep themselves within striking distance in the second quarter despite the brutal pace of the game. The Wolfpack worked their lead into double-digits, but South Central found some range behind the arc from Lucas Stewart and Jordan Huda, who continued to keep the Rebels within eight. Crawford County, however, finished out the half with a 10-0 run, and the Wolfpack took a 39-21 lead to the locker room at halftime.
“We missed some guys in the middle we just didn’t see or weren’t able to execute the pass and get it to them,” said Robinson. “We were hoping to get in the middle of their zone and maybe inside out. A few times we did it, but a lot of times they met us at the rim and they were better athletes tonight. … ”
South Central did a little better job of rebounding in the second quarter but struggled to get second attempts into the basket.
“That’s where Colten came into play,” Hanger said. “They rushed some of those second attempts up there. Even in the second quarter, they wouldn’t go away. They kept hanging in there close enough to where we knew we were going to have to make a run just to get away from them.”
“We talked about what was working and what was not,” Hanger said of the half-time talk. “We didn’t change anything on our offense or defense. We just mainly talked about what was working and what was not working and trying to stay away from the things that wasn’t working.”
The fast-paced game continued in the third quarter, and South Central struggled to gain any ground on its opponent. Crawford County extended its lead as the pace started to take its toll on the Rebels. By the fourth quarter, South Central fought to slow the game down to get some air. The Wolfpack again dominated in the final eight minutes, and Crawford County took the 72-44 win.
“I think they wore on us a lot,” Robinson said. “We’ve got to be able to play through that. We probably played a little too fast. In the second half, they just hit a lot of shots and it just kind of went from there. It was basically they hit and we didn’t.”
“Trying to develop kids with confidence to take shots when they’re open, sometimes they think, ‘I’ve got to shoot this one’,” he said. “We just played at a speed we’re probably not capable of playing yet.”
Hanger said the conditioning of his team proved to be the big factor in the outcome.
“It was a big thing,” he said. “It was a fast-paced game early on, a really fast-paced game. We don’t mind running. As a matter of fact, we like running, to get up and down the floor. We just didn’t have a chance to run with Forest Park the other night as much as we did here tonight. Tonight, they thought they were going to come in here and run with us. You’ve got to be in pretty good shape to run with us.”
Nickelson led the Wolfpack with 13 for the game, and Adams and Trevor Harvey finished with 12 each. Crawford County connected on 26 of its 58 field-goal attempts (45%) and 8 of 11 free throws. The Wolfpack had 14 turnovers.
“Trevor hit some big shots like he normally does, and Noah hit some shots,” Hanger said. “Our main three is obviously going to be Colten Nickelson and Preston Coleman and Wyatt Allinger. But, when you get Trevor and Noah going at the same time, we’re pretty good, and we’re going to have a pretty good ball team.”
Dylan Patterson led the Rebels with 14 for the night. South Central put in 14 of 51 field goals (27%), 7 of 27 coming from behind the arc. The Rebels sank 8 of 11 free throws and had 20 turnovers.
Robinson said the Wolfpack defense made his team take a lot of bad shots.
“They kind of made us play that way with their length,” said the Rebels coach. “You have to be ready before you get the ball to shoot it against that team because they get there so fast. We try to emphasize that in practice, and I think a couple of times our kids just thought maybe they weren’t reading it and didn’t know they had as much time as they did.”
“We knew they were going to shoot a lot of shots outside, so we told them they were going to have to be diligent in our 3-2 tonight to extend it out on the floor, get a hand up in front of them,” said Hanger. “They were coming down and shooting a bunch of unpredictable threes when you were least expecting it. Luckily for us they didn’t hit very many.”
“We’ve got to be able to play without the ball faster than we do with it,” Robinson said. “We don’t play very fast without the ball, and we were probably playing too fast with it. We’ve got to make some adjustments there. Better decision-making would be more what we’re looking for.”
“We need to work on our rebounding,” said Hanger. “Even tonight there was a few times they got rebounds they shouldn’t have, and we allowed them to slip inside and get some shots off. Even against our 3-2, we slowed them down a lot, but I think there was still some open shots in the 3-2 that we still need to work on. Defensively, we need to work with our zone and we also need to work on our rebounding.”
South Central 10 11 13 10 – 44
Crawford County 21 18 17 16 – 72
South Central (0-2) – Patterson 14, Stewart 8, Tyree 8, Huda 6, Steen 5, Wilson 3.
Crawford County (1-1) – Nickelson 13, Adams 12, Harvey 12, Allinger 9, Talley 9, P. Coleman 7, Z. Coleman 4, Sturgeon 3, Barker 2, Davis 1.
3-point goals – South Central 3 (Patterson, Wilson, Huda 2, Stewart, Tyree, Steen), Crawford County 8 (Harvey 2, P. Coleman, Allinger, Talley 3, Nickelson).