Crawford slows down Lanesville
Wade Bell, Sports Writer
The Lanesville Eagles like their basketball fast, up and down the court fast. The Crawford County Wolfpack started out the season that way, but the last few games have seen their game slow down a little bit and become more patient.
When the two teams met Saturday night in Ron Ferguson Gymnasium, Crawford County slowed the game and that didn’t sit well with the Eagles. The Wolfpack controlled the tempo and came away with a 53-45 win.
“That was a really, really good win,” said Crawford County coach Jerry Hanger. “I thought we deserved that win tonight. I thought our kids played hard all night long. We just dug in there in the second half and just started playing really good ball the second half. We played with some composure and really didn’t make a lot of mistakes the second half. I think we shot the ball fairly well. We didn’t shoot free throws very well. We were nine for 15, so I’m not real happy with that. Overall, I thought we got really good performances out of several kids tonight.”
“The whole game we played too slow,” said a disappointed Lanesville coach Mikel Miller. “Normally, the type of style we play, we like to play fast. We just didn’t play fast enough tonight. As to why, I don’t know. We just didn’t play fast enough.
“We got in a half-court game, and that’s what they want to do. We got caught playing their style of game instead of us playing our style of game,” he said. “We talked about at the beginning we wanted to get the ball up and down the floor.”
The first quarter was spent with the two teams trading the lead seven times in the first eight minutes. Midway through the period, Connor Nolot gave the Eagles a 12-8 edge scoring in the paint and followed that with a three-ball. Crawford County followed with a 6-0 burst that included a bone-jarring dunk by Colten Nickelson, and the Wolfpack had a 14-12 edge at the end of the period.
The Wolfpack began to find themselves in foul trouble in the second quarter. Noah Adams had picked up his second in the first period then, in the second quarter, Zach Preston and Keith Brooks were hit with two fouls each.
“Early on, I thought it could be bad because we had our point guard (Adams), who we really needed,” Hanger said. “Not only is he a point guard, but he’s a really good scorer for us. Noah, we tried to spot-play him a little bit here and there, but the bottom line it was worrisome that we had that many guys with that many fouls on them.”
The two teams traded paint through the first part of the quarter, then Nickelson gave Crawford County a four-point edge scoring inside. The Eagles finished out the period with a 6-0 burst with the Wolfpack misfiring on their last four shots of the quarter. Lanesville led 23-21 at the break.
One area the Wolfpack was showing improvement on was their defense.
“We’ve been working really hard on it,” said Hanger. “The kids have started to buy into it, and that’s the one thing. If we can just buy into our defense, that’s going to keep us in a lot of games. If we can put out any offensive production, we’re a pretty good ball team.”
“Part of it was their little 2-2-1 press, which they used to slow us down,” said Miller. “That did help, but there were other times where, against that press, if we passed ahead a little bit more, it would have given us an opportunity to be in a scoring position at a quicker rate, instead of having to go through their half-court defense for so long just trying to get a basket.”
Lanesville’s shooting broke down in the third period with the Eagles hitting just two of 14 shots from the field. Free throws kept the Eagles in the game, however, and Lanesville was down just a point, 30-29, going into the fourth.
The Eagles tried desperately to get the momentum back in their favor in the fourth, putting up 21 shots during the period. Lanesville went back in front to start the period, then baskets went back and forth until Adams and Coleman put a 7-1 burst together for a 44-38 Crawford County edge. At one point, Lanesville missed four straight shots in the paint and went six of 21 for the quarter. From there, the Wolfpack went on to post a 53-45 win.
“It was a good match tonight,” Hanger said. “Lanesville is a good ball team. They’ve won 12 games coming into tonight and, if we didn’t play well, we weren’t going to win. They proved that early. Every time we slipped up in the first half, they made us pay for it. So, we had to play a much better game in the second half.”
“Both teams were physical,” said Miller. “That was one thing that pleased me. I thought we did pretty well rebounding-wise most of the game. We know that Crawford usually plays really physical. Our kids did play physical. I felt like we missed some easy baskets underneath and missed some open shots we normally hit. That’s just part of basketball.”
Adams led Crawford County with 18 points, and Nickelson followed with 16. Preston Coleman added 11 for the Wolfpack, who were 20 of 37 from the field (54%) and 10 of 17 from the charity stripe. Crawford County finished with 10 turnovers.
“Those two played an important role on our offensive end of the floor,” Hanger said of Adams and Nickelson. “They both played really, really well. Preston played a good floor game tonight. He forced a couple of shots early, and we talked about it at halftime, but he played a really good floor game the second half. He did a nice job there.
“I also thought Reese (Sturgeon) came in and gave us some good minutes, and for the first time this year Keith played just about a whole game, but he played very stable and he did a really good job defensively inside.”
Nolot led the Eagles with 16, and Tripp Dillion had 15. Lanesville struggled shooting, hitting 13 of 54 shots (24%) and 15 of 21 free throws. Lanesville had 11 turnovers for the game.
“We didn’t get it up and down the floor fast enough tonight,” Miller said while shaking his head at the scorebook. “We didn’t push ahead, either pass ahead enough or dribble ahead fast enough.”
Both teams have one more game left this week before sectional play begins, Lanesville against Austin, and Crawford County against conference rival Paoli.
“Our last home game will be senior night and stuff,” Miller said. “(We want to) win. I know that seems simple, but you want to win that game because you’d like to have some type of momentum heading into your first-round game in the sectional and have a little bit of confidence in that game.”
“We played good defense tonight, and I think that’s going to carry over into next week,” said Hanger. “Paoli can score. They handle the ball really, really well. They’re very aggressive. We need to just turn the corner on our defense and be very aggressive with them. Hopefully, we can outscore them. They’re almost an identical team (to Lanesville), except for (Brett) Bosley. Bosley has got a little size to him, but the rest of their players are exactly like what (Lanesville) has got.”
Lanesville 12 11 6 16 – 45
Crawford County 14 7 9 23 – 53
Lanesville (12-10) – Nolot 16, Dillion 15, Schickel 5, Powers 3, Reynolds 3, Wernert 2, Miller 1.
Crawford County (11-11) – Adams 18, Nickelson 16, Coleman 11, Brooks 4, Allinger 2, Sturgeon 2.
3-point goals – Lanesville 4 (Nolot 2, Powers 1, Reynolds 1); Crawford County 3 (Adams 2, Coleman 1).