Boys Basketball Preview

Athenians host No. 2 ranked Warriors on Friday

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Crawfordsville’s boys’ basketball team remembers the 71-63 loss at Danville last season that denied them the outright Sagamore Conference title, and the Athenians will get a chance to give the Warriors their first league loss on Friday night.

It won’t be easy.

Take nothing away from the Athenians’ 12-8 record and 4-2 SAC stance, but Danville has played at a level the Sagamore Conference hasn’t seen outside of the 2017-18 semi-state Danville team since Travis Carroll led the Warriors and DJ Byrd led North Montgomery over a decade ago.

Led by Dillon Ware’s 16.3 points per game, the Warriors currently sit at 18-2 and ranked No. 2 in Class 3A.

“Danville is a great team,” Crawfordsville coach David Pierce said. “They’re long and veteran ball club. They’re playing with a ton of confidence and our guys have to be ready to step up to the challenge. We’re playing with nothing to lose and everything to gain. It’s a great opportunity for us with them being a sectional opponent.”

Jesse Hall leads an Athenian team that has won three of its last four games with 15.6 points per game, but are coming off a 78-60 loss to Central Catholic on Tuesday.

“These next two practices I’m going to find five guys that know how to hold each other accountable and can compete,” Pierce said after the loss to the Knights. “We faced major adversity tonight and we didn’t have anyone who stepped up to take that leadership role. We’ll be ready for Danville, and I can promise that we will compete no matter what.”

Southmont at Frankfort

It will have been 10 days since the last time the Mounties suited up when they travel to Frankfort on Friday night, but coach Jake Turner is perfectly okay with that.

“It was nice to have the weekend off to get healthy and rested for the stretch run,” he said. “We have four games in the next two weeks and then it’s tournament time. It’s a sprint to the finish now. We have to be focused and have a great mindset every single day because we cannot afford anything but great practices, and film sessions at this point in the year.”

Southmont is 5-12 on the season and 2-4 in Sagamore Conference play and will travel to Frankfort to take on a Hot Dog team that is winless in the SAC, and just 4-14 overall. The Mounties are hopeful for the return of Carson Chadd and Cale Hess, who both suffered ankle injuries in the overtime win over Crawfordsville on Jan. 25.

Austin Bowman leads Southmont with 10.7 points per game, while Trey Frazier averages 14.4 for a Hot Dogs team that is averaging nearly 60 points per game.

“Frankfort is a very, very hard team to guard because they can all handle and they have so many shooters that it stretches the floor and keeps the middle open for drives,” Turner said. “They are definitely better than their record indicates and their shooting ability is scary. We will need to be patient on offense and take care of the ball and then take pride in getting stops on the other end because the math will not work in our favor if we try to trade 2s for 3s.”

Southmont will complete the double-weekend with a make-up game against Fountain Central on Saturday at home.

Fountain Central at North Vermillion

Fountain Central (9-12) is hopeful to end a two-game skid when it faces a 2-18 North Vermillion team on Friday, but coach Phil Shabi knows the Mustangs can’t assume an automatic win against anybody.

“It would be monumentally foolish for our team to overlook any opponent,” he said. “North Vermillion is undoubtedly working hard and they have improved as the season has progressed.”

The Falcons are winless in Wabash River Conference play, and last won on Dec. 14. Ethan Watson leads North Vermillion with 8.2 points per game, while Andrew Shabi leads the Mustangs with 14.2 points per game.

Fountain Central is hoping to move past a pair of recent losses to WRC leaders Covington and Parke Heritage.

“We put a big emphasis on controlling things we are able to control,” Shabi said. “While our performance was disappointing, we can’t control anything that happened in the past. We are focused on improving every day.”

North Montgomery at Tri-West

Winners of four-straight, North Montgomery is 11-9 and streaking toward its first winning season since 2016.

The first team standing in their way is a road trip to Sagamore Conference foe Tri-West on Friday night.

“Tri-West is a potential sectional opponent, and every conference game is a big game, so we have to be ready,” Chargers coach Chad Arnold said. “They are a big team, and a really good team. This is a confidence game against a good team that we could face in the tournament.”

Tri-West is 8-10 on the season, but has lost four of its last five games. Taylor Gardner leads the Bruins with 16.3 points per game, while Jaron Bradford leads the Chargers with an 11.3 per game average.

North Montgomery expects to be without the services of forwards Jack Thompson and Zak Searle for the second straight game, but are hopeful for their return from injuries in the regular season finale next week against Greencastle.

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