Boys Basketball

Athenians don’t back down from Patriots in loss

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The marker swiped around on coach David Pierce’s clipboard, designing a play for the five Crawfordsville players hitting the floor after the timeout.

The next step was execution.

Overall, the Athenian boys basketball team executed fairly well during the tussle with Class A No. 3 Bethesda Christian Saturday evening. However, the visiting Patriots held off several charges for a 63-48 win.

Crawfordsville was within striking distance in the fourth quarter.

“I was really proud of our kids,” Pierce said. ““We knocked it down to six. We purposely called a play, got the play we wanted and missed the layup. We had another chance to knock it to four, but just came up short.”

Senior Cale Coursey had quite the night. He tossed in a career-high 24 points on 9-of-13 shooting and hit all five of his three-point attempts. His hot hand kept the Athenians fairly close at several instances during the game. He scored seven straight in the second quarter, including a bucket on an out of bounds play to pull within 26-18. A pair of threes late in the third helped his team draw to 45-36 heading to the final frame.

“He’s put a lot of time and effort in over Christmas and even just lately. He’s capable of doing that all the time. Our guys driving allowed him to get open. Then kudos to our post guys that set screens to get him open and our guards to find him.”

For Bethesda Christian it was the next man up during its sixth consecutive win as the Athenians found ways to lock down other Patriots. Luke Stuckey and Luke Douglas combined for 16 fourth quarter points, including 8-of-8 from the free throw line.

Earlier, leading scorer Sam Mlagan had 16 in the first half. Jamison Chapman took over in the third quarter.

“They’re loaded. They’ve got a lot of talent. That’s the perks of the situation they’re in. But we wanted to play a good team and why we put them on our schedule.”

After Coursey Tyson Fuller scored eight while Ethan McLemore and sophomore Alec Saidian added six each. Saidian had a team high five rebounds.

The home team turned the ball over 14 times, but only three in the second half, all in the third quarter. They forced nine turnovers by the visitors.

Pierce’s team shot well overall, 17-of-33 and 6-10 from behind the arc. As his team drove and cut into the lane regularly he hoped some of the other shots would fall.

“We shoot a lot of shots in practice, but we’re not hitting at a very good percentage right now. We’re missing some bunnies. I don’t know if it’s pressure or what it is. We’ve got to get better.”

Six different Athenians scored and nine had playing time, a welcomed addition.

“We had a really good bench tonight, which gave guys some rest and why Cale was able to shoot better tonight.”

The Crawfordsville JV team scored a 40-33 victory with Pierce’s dad, Danny, at the helm. The elder coached 35 years at Western Boone, where David played. He was IBCA assistant coach of the year in 2019 and has assisted David for seven years.

“We love it. He’s got tons of experience. The kids love him. The middle school kids love him. He just builds relationships so well. It’s nice to have him.”

The Athenians finish off the three-game homestand against two powerful teams next weekend. Class 1A No. 7 Fountain Central is in Friday with a rematch against Southmont on tap for Saturday. Then Pierce’s squad hits the road for seven of the next eight contests

“That’s a brutal stretch. It’s the best Fountain Central team we’ve seen in maybe 40 years. Follow that up with a huge rivalry game with Southmont the next night.”

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