FRANKFORT – They used the game as a distraction from the realities of life as the Crawfordsville's boys basketball team came together to defeat Frankfort 86-62 in Sagamore Conference action at Case Arena.
A friend, Michael Leak, who was a junior at CHS and a member of the athletic family, and Kayden Fullenwider, a cousin of Athenians starter Ty Lynas were killed in a car accident Thursday evening.
The Athenians played in memory of Leak, and Lynas also played in memory of his cousin.
Lynas scored 11 points, had a team-best seven assists and added six rebounds.
“It was good to get my mind off of it for a little while,” the senior said. “I was able to focus on the game and my teammates were great. We talked about things a little, and we played for both of them.”
“We were all hurting,” fellow senior Jesse Hall said. “We drew ourselves together for them. It was actually a blessing to have the distraction for a little while, and focus on something else.”
The Athenians, scoring a season-high, were focused from the opening tip, as they win their fifth game in a row, move to 7-2 overall and 3-0 in the Sagamore.
They scored the first nine points of the game, led by 11 after a quarter, 17 at the half, and 24 after three.
“The guys were down today obviously,” Cville coach David Pierce said, “and we talked about things a little before we got on the bus. I thought the guys were really able to compartmentalize and weather the storm. They were more focused for that short amount of time. We knew Michael from way back. He was a manager in middle school and then started wrestling, but was in the cheer block and always around. He was really a great guy, always really pleasant and the life of the party. He always made you feel better.”
The Athenians were on top of their game from all aspects.
They were well over 50 percent from the field (38-of-72) and had a 45-28 advantage on the boards, which led to a 20-0 advantage in second-chance points. They had only 11 turnovers while forcing 19.
Three guys were in double-figure scoring, one had nine and three more had eight.
Hall and Alex Kellerman each had 17, followed by Lynas with his 11. Cale Coursey came off the bench to score the nine, while Ian Hensley, Ziair Morgan and Mekhi Wallace had the eights.
“It was a good breakout game for Alex (Kellerman),” Pierce said of the junior going 10 points over his average. “He is capable of getting hot. Ziair (Morgan) gave us great minutes off the bench and hit a couple big three's. Coursey was also great off the bench. We had him at a plus-11 in the second quarter.”
In the first half, the Athenians worked the offense inside against the Hot Dogs zone. In the second half, they just took it inside against their man defense. Twenty nine of their 31 two-point field goals were in the paint.
“Jesse (Hall) dominated inside,” Pierce said, “and we had 25 assists on 38 made baskets. That shows how well the guys were passing the ball around. It was a lot of fun to coach and watch tonight.”.
The defense also played shut-down for most of the first three quarters.
“We played really good defense but we relaxed when we got the big lead,” Pierce noted. “That can't happen, but we did a good job keeping their offense in front of us.”
The Hot Dogs, who fall to 7-6 overall and 1-3 in the league, were led by Landen Majia, who came off the bench to score 15. Jade Ayers and Deacon Spencer each had 14.
The home squad was 22-of-50 from the field, 8-of-19 from long range and 10-of-18 from the line. Ayers and Majia each had five boards.
Both teams have lots of action left.
The Hot Dogs entertain West Lafayette tonight and have both North Montgomery and Southmont left on the February schedule.
The Athenians, starting a five-game road swing, travel to Northview tonight with two more next week.
Crawfordsville trailed by 11 in the first half, and seven to start the fourth quarter, but overcame the deficit to win the jv game 58-53.
Alex Hernandez led all scoring with 18, followed by Drake Burris and Gavin Kenny with 11 each, and Mikale Willis had 10.
Sophomore Ezekiel Cardenas was the fourth-quarter hero, hitting all four free throw attempts. The first two gave Cville the lead and the last two secured the win.