Southmont coach Jake Turner knows he has elite talent on the offensive side of the ball. He’s always been focused on the other side of the ball with his squad and the Southmont defense played lights out as the Mounties dominated the Athenians 58-27 on Saturday. The 27 points by Crawfordsville is their fewest in a game since 2015. Southmont not only avenged the Sugar Creek Classic championship game loss (41-40), but also in their dominating victory claimed the county tile.
“Our defense at Covington simply was not good and we were frustrated with how we played overall,” Turner said. “We really challenged our guys and told them they were better than that. We knew if we could get defensive stops and finish it by rebounding well we should win. We thought we were the better team and tonight we played like it.”
Avery Saunders led all scorers in the game with 20 points for the Mounties. Carson Chadd added in 12 points and eight rebounds. Both Logan Oppy and EJ Brewer scored nine and Isiah McMasters chipped in a single point at the free-throw line. In their loss against the Trojans on Friday, Southmont had just three players score. Turner was much more pleased with the balanced scoring attack that his team showed.
“They really struggled to guard Avery in their man-to-man,” he said. “Carson and I had a talk today. He knew that we needed more from him and how he needed to be more confident and aggressive and being the player we know he can be. I’m happy for him to start to see some success for the hard work he’s put in. All of other guys too, Trip, Carter, EJ, and Logan all played well.”
While the sting of the Sugar Creek Classic does still exist with the Mounties, Turner mentioned how his team has gotten better from that loss and learned to move forward. Southmont sure was able to do just that in claiming the county title.
“Sometimes to you need to be humbled and something to build that fire inside,” Turner said. “Life doesn’t always give you what you want, but we earned this tonight as a team. David (Pierce) is an excellent coach, they run good stuff and have really smart kids who are tough and physical. To hold a team like that under 30 points is a testament to our toughness and our defense and I’m really proud of our guys.”
The Athenians fall to 9-4 (1-2 SAC) with the loss. Overall it was just a bad shooting night for the Athenians as they shot just 7-28 from the field. Those shooting woes were present at the free-throw line as well as Crawfordsville shot 9-20 from the charity stripe.
“We couldn’t throw it in the ocean tonight,” Crawfordsville coach David Pierce said. “We had wide open looks and still couldn’t get one to go. We haven’t had to face real adversity yet this year and now here we are. It’s the sixth game in a row where haven’t shot it well and it caught up with us tonight. Our guys are tough and will bounce back, but we’re going to make it tough on them this week.”
Ian Hensley and Ziair Morgan both led CHS with seven points. Alex Kellerman added five, both Mekhi Wallace and Drake Burris scored three and Gavin Kenny chipped in two for the Athenians.
While the loss will be hard to swallow for the Athenians and their fans, Pierce did see some positives in the game which he and the team will take away.
“I was pleased at times with the play of our bench,” he said. “I thought they came in and were positive and tried to make some things happen. We got some experience for a lot of younger guys too who saw action. One of the toughest things right now is we got some guys who need to get healthy. Do that and find our shot on offense and regroup. We’re at the half-way point so we have to get back to the grind stone.”
Southmont improves to 11-2 (4-0 SAC) on the year as they remain perfect in conference play. They control their own destiny in the conference, but still have the likes of Tri-West and Lebanon to go through. Turner knows it’ll be a battle and it starts on Friday with the Tigers coming to town.
“Lebanon is an excellent team and we’re probably going to have to play our best game of the year,” he said. “They’re well coached and are very physical. If we have a great week of practice and come with the same intensity an focus we did tonight, then I think good things will happen. We’re going to enjoy this one first. I’m happy not only for us, but for the girls as well and it was just a great day for Southmont.”
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