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Lady Pack scour South Central

Lady Pack scour South Central
Lady Pack scour South Central
South Central’s Gracelynn Bartoszek (14) gets some heat from Crawford County’s Riley House in the first half of the Lady Pack’s 64-27 win over the Lady Rebels. Photo by Wade Bell
By Wade Bell, Sports Writer

The Crawford County girls’ basketball team came at the South Central Lady Rebels with teeth bared Saturday night in the first game of a varsity double header with the Lady Pack tearing through South Central in a 64-27 win. The Lady Rebels had nothing for Crawford County’s size, and aggressiveness saw their chances get away early.

“Nights like tonight everybody can leave the locker room and they can feel good about it,” said Crawford County coach Chris Broughton. “Everybody contributed, and I think that just builds into our culture as far as I don’t care who scores or who’s rebounding. We don’t care who’s playing. We want to win, and the kids buy into that and they’re playing for each other. It’s fun to be around.”

“Most of our games are lopsided, but I will say the point of our game where we played North Harrison to the point of today, we’ve had a lot of growth as far as defensively,” said South Central girls’ coach Lynne Thomas. “We’ve had a lot of maturity mentally. I have three freshmen that are getting a lot of minutes. Not everyone can step into the varsity game from being an eighth grader to being a freshman. Unfortunately, those girls need some JV time but I don’t have the ability to give them that.”

Crawford County came at the Lady Rebels like a buzz saw to begin the game, scoring the first 18 points. South Central, which only got off six shots in the first eight minutes, finally got a basket late in the period when Kendall Kiper hit a jumper from mid-range and Lexie Liebert later followed with a pair of free throws. Maddyson Sturgeon drilled a Crawford County three and Emery Stroud added a free throw. Kiper finished out the quarter hitting from behind the arc, but the Lady Pack had a 22-7 lead at the end of the first eight minutes.

South Central’s best quarter came in the second, but the Lady Rebels still found it rough going as the Lady Pack were able to send fresh bodies into the game while South Central had just three subs on the bench. By the end of the half, the Lady Rebels found themselves in a deep hole, 38-15, at the break.

“We’ve struggled with turnovers, and one of our main focuses tonight was unforced turnovers,” said Thomas, whose team had 19 turnovers in the first half. “I was a player and I understand turnovers happen, but it’s unforced turnovers we have to alleviate. We still struggle with that because of nerves. Defensively, we’re going to be out-sized all year probably. So, it’s teaching them and getting them to the point where they understand the game and what their role is. That’s been a big goal, and I’ve seen the growth in that the last four games.”

“We dressed 13 kids, and we played all 13,” Broughton said. “They played all eight, but we knew they were about five to six deep whereas we’re running bodies in the next quarter. It’s just hard to play against, and we ought to be able to do that.”

The Lady Pack continued their onslaught in the third quarter, but the Lady Rebels cut down on their turnovers in the second half. Crawford County slowed down the game in the final eight minutes with its bench playing and went on for the 64-27 win.

“We talk about after every game, if we win, every person in the locker room can leave and feel good about it because we won,” said the Crawford County coach. “If we lose and you score 20 points, you still can’t leave and feel good. ‘Oh, I got my 20 but we lost.’ If we win, everybody feels good but, if we lose, everybody feels bad about it.”

“At our North Harrison game, we were very timid and very scared,” said Thomas. “We didn’t want to get on the floor. Size intimidated us. Now when these girls step on the floor, they don’t even think about the size. We’ve played some big girls. Every team we’ve played has out-sized us in every position, so getting them to understand that is going to happen night in and night out can no longer be an excuse. We have to move past that.”

Emery Stroud led Crawford County with 22 points for the night, and Emily Kerce followed with 18, hitting four times from behind the arc. Natalie Stroud added 11 for the Lady Pack, who put in 24 of 58 field goals (41%) and 6 of 11 free throws and had seven turnovers.

“The big thing I take away from tonight too is Kylie Rickenbaugh is back and playing,” Broughton said. “We’re a completely different team when she’s on the floor, and she doesn’t have to score a single point to make us different. She plays hard, and Emmy (Stroud) plays that way, and Natalie (Stroud). When you have three or four kids on the floor that’s just going after every rebound and playing as hard as they can and getting their hands on balls, it’s hard to play against.”

Kiper led South Central with 13 points, putting down three triples in the game, and Gracelynn Bartoszek finished with eight points. The Lady Rebels were 8 of 28 from the field (29%) and 6 of 10 from the charity stripe. South Central finished with 27 turnovers.

“We are making progress,” said Thomas. “When we went into the Lanesville game, they had a few girls out sick so it did help us match up a little bit better than if their full team would be there. I saw a lot of good things that night. I have to look at the program and, when I look at the three freshmen, they could be a start of the turnaround. When I look at them and at some of the eighth graders and on down the feeder program and I see the excitement from those girls, I feel like this could be that turning point.”

Crawford County 22 16 21 5 – 64
South Central 7 8 7 5 – 27
Crawford County – E. Stroud 22, Kerce 18, N. Stroud 11, Sturgeon 9, Ash 2, Rickenbaugh 2.
South Central – Kiper 13, Bartoszek 8, Liebert 4, Ashby 2.
3-point goals – Crawford County 7 (Kerce 4, Sturgeon 3); South Central 3 (Kiper 3).
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