Southmont and Crawfordsville. Two county rivals, but only one could bring home the coveted Sugar Creek Classic paddle Saturday night as the two teams squared off for the first time this season after coming away with wins on Friday. The rivalry game with everything on the line lived up to the hype as neither team gained much of an edge as the Mounties held the lead the for most of the game but never by more than seven points. With 1:19 left in the game Cville’s Tyson Fuller evened up the game at 30-30.
South and coach Jake Turner elected to be patient and hold the ball for as he called a timeout to set up a play with just 9.9 seconds remaining. The play was for his senior big man Carson Chadd as the Mounties executed it to perfection as Chadd scored a layup off the inbounds pass to give the Mounties a 32-30 lead. With fouls to give South fouled twice to kill the clock as Crawfordsville was able to move the ball into the front court but had just four seconds to get off a shot. Ethan McLemore caught the inbounds pass and his shot rattled off the rim as the Mounties claimed their first Sugar Creek Classic title since 2018 in a thrilling 32-30 win.
“First and foremost credit goes to Crawfordsville for how hard they played,” Southmont coach Jake Turner said. “This was just a great Montgomery County rivalry game for a championship and we were just lucky enough to hold on at the end. I’m really proud of our guys for executing the out of bounds play that got Carson the basket, and executing what we wanted to do in terms of fouling at the end. We dealt with some adversity which is nothing new for us this year. Different guys stepped up when they needed to and I’m glad we can bring the paddle home.”
The Championship is the Mounties third in the 16-year history of the tournament. Chadd led all scorers in the game with 16 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. For his performance he was named the tournament MVP and Turner said how his senior big man earned the honor.
“He played like an MVP tonight,” he said. “He scored half our points, handled the ball well, defended at the rim, rebounded and just played like how Carson normally plays. He’s our senior leader and a four-year starter. It’s a testament to how tough he is from the moment he came into our program. Our success has a lot to do with him.”
Along with Chadd’s 16, Kyler McCandless added six with both Trip Ward and Vince Reimondo adding three. EJ Brewer and Hayden Hess each scored two. Crawfordsville was led in scoring by both Cale Coursey and Ethan McLemore’s eight points. Fuller scored seven, Drake Burris five, and Alec Saidian rounded out the scoring with two for the Athenians.
The paddle alluded the Mounties a season ago as they fell in a one-point loss 41-40 to Crawfordsville. This time it was the Mounties turn and they got the job done.
“This championship means a lot to me and to our team,” Chadd said. “We wanted it last year so tonight was getting a little revenge for last season. This group has worked really hard to get to where we are and this was one of our goals and a goal that I haven’t been able to achieve until now. We’ve found out that we’re a really tough team who can handle adversity well and that was the case again tonight.”
Crawfordsville coach David Pierce noted after the game how sometimes that’s the way games go in a hard fought county game. While the loss hurts, he knows it’s something his young team can learn from as they progress the rest of the way.
“I thought our defense played great tonight especially in the second half, holding them to only 12,” he said. “We didn’t shoot it well tonight and that’s what came back to hurt us. A lot of those shots normally fall. Not shooting any free-throws the entire game didn’t do us any favors either but those are things we’re going to have to overcome. We’ll play them (South) here in two weeks and look to get back at them.”
Along with Chadd winning Tournament MVP, McCandless earned a spot on the All-Tournament team as did Coursey and Fuller for Crawfordsville.
The loss for the Athenians sees their record fall to 5-5 on the season. They will be back in action at home on Friday when they host Bethesda Christian.
With the win the Mounties continue their great start to their year as they improve to 8-2. They’ll also be at home on Friday when they host Seeger in a girl/boy double-header.
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