LEBANON – The rivalry between Crawfordsville and Lebanon goes back to the first time the boys played in 1908.
The first two state high school state boys champions were Crawfordsville and Lebanon, in 1911 and 1912.
While the girls don’t have the lengthy history, any trip to Rosenstihl Gymnasium invokes memories and usually provides an interesting game.
The Crawfordsville girls team had a rugged first quarter in losing to the Tigers, but the boys game kept fans on their feet for most of the contest. Both teams had opportunities, but down the stretch, and due to their defense, and some hot shooting, the Athenians came up with a rare win at the Tigers home.
GIRLS FALL IN OPENER
The first quarter was game, set and match for the girls game, as Lebanon scored the first 10 points, tallied a 24-2 lead at the end of the first eight minutes and cruised to a 45-14 Sagamore Conference win.
Pressure in the backcourt and in the passing lanes meant the Tigers forced 10 Athenians turnovers, and those became 19 points.
“We just didn’t have it in that first quarter,” Cville coach Joe Ferguson said. “We didn’t have the mental toughness we needed. Now, we got thing going in the second and third quarters, kind of a wakeup I guess, and we showed ourselves we could play with them. I told the girls to just go out and play hard. We got some better looks in the last three quarters and went to the basket a lot better.”
Crawfordsville falls to 0-10 overall and 0-3 in the league, while the Tigers move to 4-3 overall but only are 1-0 in the conference.
“We played with poise and confidence and intensity,” Lebanon coach Candace Huckstep said. “We executed our offense, but our defense put us in great position.”
The first quarter set the tone, but the rest of the game saw a variety of happenings.
The Athenians outscored the Tigers 11-10 in the middle quarters, but then didn’t have a field goal in the fourth. The home team didn’t have a field goal in the third.
“We went to the basket in the last three quarters and didn’t avoid the contact,” Ferguson said of the offense, that finished 4-of-19 from the field, 0-of-4 from long range and 6-of 14 from the line. “Molly Pierce did a great job in the second half going into the lane and attacking the basket. She got in and attacked their bigs, and that is a good thing for us going forward. Madison Hedrick played her best defense of the season. She was locked in. She always gets the other team’s best player and I really like her defensive aggressiveness.”
Pierce and Litzy Huesca each had three point to lead the Athenians. Pierce and Olivia Hedrick each had five rebounds.
The Tigers were led by Sophie Kyker, who came off the bench to score 16. The Tigers were 14-of-46 from the field, 6-of-17 from deep and 11-of-20 from the line. Theyenin were out-rebounded 33-30.
The Athenians travel to Attica Saturday night as part of a girl-boy doubleheader. The Tigers have January games with both North Montgomery and Southmont.
BOYS WIN THRILLER
It was the 195th meeting of the storied rivalry. They own a win at Lebanon in 2017, but only that one since 2005,
Needless to say, the 51-45 Crawfordsville win brought a lot of smiles to a lot of faces.
“This is certainly a tough place to play,” Athenians coach David Pierce said. “We showed a lot of resiliencies tonight in winning. We hurt ourselves a few times, but we got back on defense and in the end, it was our defense that won the game.”
Kaden Patton’s 20 points didn’t hurt either.
The senior became the third different Crawfordsville player to notch a big scoresheet in the first three games of the season, as he went 6-of-6 from three-point range, including three in the fourth quarter.
The Athenians were 9-of-13 from long range on the foreign floor and they were 20-of-37 overall from the field for the night.
“That just means opponents have to guard all five guys,” Pierce said of the Patton barrage. “We have a bunch of seniors who bring a good week of practice to the game. We got inside some, and we played good team basketball.”
The coach never strayed far from the defense after the game however, as that hustle back kept a couple turnovers from becoming disasters in the last minutes of the game, and guys played big roles.
“Tyson Fuller did a great job on (Tigers guard Kaden) Lark, and our guards did a really good job of playing help-defense,” he said. “We played good defense all night and really executed the game plan.”
There were five lead changes in the first three quarters, plus a couple ties, but Cville took the lead with the first bucket of the last quarter, and kept that lead despite relentless pressure (and some untimely turnovers).
The Tigers got within once a couple times, the last at 46-45 with just under a minute left, but a free throw by Ethan McLemore, a steal and field goal by Fuller and bucket by Alec Saidian set the final score as the Tigers drop to 1-2 overall and 0-1 in the Sagamore Conference. The Athenians move to 2-1 and are 1-0 in the league with the win.
The visitors even used some football skills to help.
“We had a long pass against their press set up,” Pierce said. “We had Patton, who was the quarterback on the football team, throw the long pass to McLemore, who was the leading receiver. It worked okay.”
Cville had all but six points from their starters, but sophomore Mason McCarty came off the bench with his best game of the season offensively, posting up for three field goals.
The Tigers were led in scoring by Lark’s 17 and Jack Ferrell’s 15. Ferrell finished his double-double with a dozen rebounds.
Lebanon was 17-of-44 from the field, 6-of-19 from deep and only 5-of-9 from the line. They didn’t shoot a free throw in the fourth quarter.
The Athenians are back in action Saturday with a trip to Attica as part of the girl-boy doubleheader. The Tigers have conference games with North and South in January.