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Athenians fall to Warriors in Sagamore title game

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DANVILLE — Two short stretches of the game made all the difference, and decided a championship, as Crawfordsville lost to Danville 84-73 in the Sagamore Conference title showdown.

A second quarter streak moved the Warriors, ranked No.7 in 3A, from down as much as eight to eventually a five-point lead.

Then, up by a lonely point early in the third quarter, Danville scored 10 in a row to give themselves the margin that ebbed and flowed around double-digits the rest of the game.

The victory moves Danville to 14-2 on the season and gives them the outright Sagamore title at 7-0, while the Athenians, looking for their first outright conference crown since 1973, fall to 11-4 overall and 6-1 in the league.

“Danville got some long rebounds and some transition buckets,” Athenians coach David Pierce said. “Overall, we did some good things, but you just cannot give a good team like they are those kind of runs. Then, when we got down, we tried to get all 12 points back at once, instead of working for a good shot and grinding it out.”

The Warriors, who win their second straight outright league title, changed things up after falling behind early.

“Crawfordsville is a really hard matchup defensively,” Danville coach Brian Barber said. “We tried some different things early, and some of them didn’t work at all. We settled on our man defense and that worked the best.”

Ty Lynas dropped three triples and handed off four assists in the first quarter, as the Athenians jumped out to a 23-17 lead.

The senior, double-teamed from that point on, was limited to 10 points and only seven shots the rest of the game. He finished with 19 points and nine assists.

The Athenians were also without Ian Hensley, who suffered an injured wrist in practice this week.

“All he had was 12 points, 10 rebounds and five steals (in last week’s win) against Tri-West,” Pierce said of the junior. “We missed his hands on some loose balls, his leadership and his communication skills on the floor.”

After the Warriors 14-0 run in the second quarter that gave them a 40-30 lead, Crawfordsville picked up the last five points of the first half and then added four quick points to start the third quarter. It was 40-39.

The home team scored 19 of the next 23, however, to thwart any plans.

“(Tyler) Dotson and (Braxton) Fulwider set the tone for our defense,” Barber said. “They did an excellent job on Lynas, and that just spread to the rest of the guys. Our defense got our transition game into high gear. We got great games off the bench by (Brayton) McMahon and (Dominick) Wynn.”

McMahon finished with 17 points, 10 above his average.

The Athenians were led in scoring by Jesse Hall with 22 points. The senior completed his second double-double of the season with 11 rebounds, which turned out to be half of Crawfordsville’s total. He also had seven assists.

Alex Kellerman added 15, as the visitors shot the ball well, going 26-of-47 from the field, and 11-of-18 from long range. They were 10-of-15 from the line and had 13 turnovers.

The stats difference in the game was off the glass, as Danville was a plus 13 (34-21) and held a 16-6 advantage in second-chance points.

“You have to crash the boards against a team like Danville,” Pierce said, noting the 10 boards that Hensley had last week.

The Warriors had a double-double from Kobe Ward with 21 points and 12 rebounds, while Dostin had 

10 to go with his eight points. It is Ward’s ninth double-double of the season. 

“Ward’s second jump is just so good,” Barber said of the senior, one of five seniors honored before the game. “He just keeps so many balls in play.”

Barber, in his 22nd year at Danville, wins his 13th Sagamore championship with the victory and his 426th game overall. The Warriors win their 18th straight over Crawfordsville.

“We were relentless during those streaks,” he noted. “We just kept banging on the door, and it finally opened. We have been scoring points all season. We just had to find the way.”

The Warriors are back in action tonight, playing host to North Putnam in a game that was switched from Roachdale to Danville. They are also in the same sectional with Crawfordsville, so there is certainly a chance for a second meeting.

“The guys think we let one get away,” Pierce said. “We shot the ball well, we distributed the ball well, and attacked the rim. We just couldn’t let them get those runs, and that is where we go to the film to learn from and to practice on, because we can sure see them again in the sectional.”

Crawfordsville hits the road again tonight with a trip to Central Catholic, and finish the regular season next week with a trip to Benton Central and a home game with Covington next week.

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