The ball flew toward the basket with the possibility of a win.
A few minutes before very few probably believed the Crawfordsville boys basketball team would be in that position.
The shot missed the mark and the Athenians (3-2) fell to a good West Lafayette squad 64-62 in the CHS gym Friday evening.
“I was really proud of our effort,” Crawfordsville coach David Pierce said. “Obviously, (West Lafayette) shot the ball extremely well from the outside. I’ll give our kids credit. There were multiple times they’d go on a run and we’d fight back. We had to change a lot of things and make a lot of adjustments on the fly.”
The Red Devils (4-1) led by as many as 13 points in the third quarter and finished the frame up 54-44.
The home team battled back for a second time after a Zevo St. Hilaire basket to open the fourth increased the advantage to 56-44.
Pierce’s squad rattled off the next nine points over the next 2:38, including a three pointer from game high scorer Alec Saidian.
Saidian’s game was beneficial both offensively and defensively against the 6-foot-10 St. Hilaire.
“I thought we did a decent job when (St. Hilaire) was in we had to go to zone. When he came out we switched back to man to guard their guards. We know Alec can shoot from the outside, but he needed to pull (St. Hilaire) out to guard and allow him to get to the rim. That’s why our guards were able to get by late in the game and get to the hole.”
It was a game of runs for Crawfordsville to keep them in the game. They trailed after one 15-12, scoring the last four of the quarter. An eight-point run in the second dissolved an 11-point disadvantage and it was 32-25 at the half.
The strategy in the second half was keep St. Hilaire away from the basket on both ends and up the defense against West Lafayette hot shooting guards Drew Whitlock and Ben Werth.
“Their guards are phenomenal and quick. It’s actually their off guards. I thought Ethan (McLemore) and Tyson (Fuller) did a phenomenal job defensively and going to get rebounds. That’s effort.”
After a slow start sophomore Mason McCarty scored all eight of his points in the second half, thanks to adjustments and to counter the hounding defense against teammates Drake Burris and Caden Patton
“We were switching guys around to get the mismatch. That’s where Mason came through. The scouting report says don’t leave those two and they didn’t.”
Saidian ended up with 25 points, including 3-of-6 from behind the arc. He completed the double-double with 12 rebounds, six in each half. McLemore added 13 points and Fuller 9.
Werth had 17 to lead the visitors with 5-of-6 threes. He was one of four Red Devils in double figures. As a team West Lafayette nailed 11-22 three point attempts and was 23-53 overall. CHS was 25-56 with 7-19 beyond the arc.
CHS outrebounded West Lafayette in the second half 22-14 and 37-30 for the game.
Pierce’s squad starts its quest to defend the Montgomery County title by playing host to North Montgomery Friday.
“I think we’re playing well right now. That’s going to be a good game. North’s playing well right now. They always play good defense. They play tough. Coach Arnold does a great job preparing them.”