IHSAA TOURNEY

SECTIONAL BASKETBALL: Ward’s late 3 lifts Warriors past Athenians

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FRANKFORT — Danville’s Kobe Ward took over the game on Wednesday night against Crawfordsville in the IHSAA Class 3A Sectional No. 25 quarterfinal matchup at Case Arena.

The senior scored 10 of his team-high 16 points in the fourth quarter, including the game-winning 3-pointer with 4.2 seconds left to lift the Warriors past the Athenians 65-62.

Crawfordsville (12-7) led 33-32 at the half and extended it to 48-40 after three quarters, but Danville (15-4) came storming back in the final period. Ward scored two quick buckets and just when it looked like the Athenians had weathered the storm with a Lynas 3-point play, the Warriors went on an 11-2 and took their first lead since the second quarter on a Braxton Fulwider 3-pointer to make it 52-51 Danville with 3:57 left. The Warriors extended the lead to 60-55 with just over two minutes to play, before Crawfordsville senior Jesse Hall scored five-straight to tie it at 60 with 1:36. Each team traded baskets, leaving Danville with the ball for the final shot, a corner triple from Ward.

“That’s the thing is they have guys who step up and make plays,” Crawfordsville coach David Pierce said. “That’s the thing about postseason and close games, you’ve got to have players who step up and go make the plays happen and I thought for the most part our guys did that to get us to that position at 62-62, a kid hit a shot and the game is over. Really proud of the guys.”

Hall did his best to step up for the Athenians with nine of his 16 points coming in the second half, while his fellow senior teammate Ty Lynas helped kickstart the Athenians offense in the first half. Lynas scored 15 of his game-high 28 points in the first half, including 11 in the second quarter. Every time Crawfordsville needed a bucket its two leading scorers got them one.

“It’s a tough one to swallow,” Pierce said. “When you’re a senior, whenever your last game is, it is hard, but if you’re going to go out, you want to go out on that effort they gave. Certainly pleased with them. It’ll be hard to watch these guys go. They put in a lot of time and effort to get us to where we are now and they’ve done a heck of a job of being leaders for the young guys coming up and getting the next batch ready to go.”

Crawfordsville will graduate Hall, Lynas, Trey McLemore and Nate Schroeter.

While Ward, Danville’s leading scorer, took control in the fourth quarter, the Warriors turned to role players to carry a bulk of the offensive load. Senior Peyton Jones knocked down a trio of 3-pointers and scoredd 11 points off the bench — nine above his season average. Fulwider was also in double-figures with 12 on four made 3-pointers. Danville was 10-of-17 from beyond the arc, while Crawfordsville was just 3-of-11. 

“They had to take out two starters, they went to their bench to try and find some shooters because they were struggling and got hot late,” Pierce said.

Tyler Dostin added 10 points for the Warriors in the win, as they advance to Friday’s second semi-final against Greencastle — hoping to make a return trip to the sectional championship and defend their title. 

Unlike in the regular season meeting, an 84-73 Danville win on Feb. 19 that decided the Sagamore Conference, Crawfordsville out-rebounded the Warriors 39-26 on Wednesday — including 12 apiece from Hall and Ian Hensley. It was the untimely turnovers and missed free throws though that allowed Danville to hang around and claw back into the game. The Athenians had 16 miscues to Danville’s 10, and were just 7-of-14 from the foul line.

“I’ll give our guys credit, we were right there. Us missing some free throws were pretty key,” Pierce said. “We were 7 of-14 from the line and ended up with 15 turnovers that gave them just a couple more opportunities.”

Overall Crawfordsville was 26-of-53 from the field, while Danville was 25-of-55.

Danville and Greencastle will follow Frankfort and Monrovia on Friday night at Case Arena, with the winners to face in the sectional championship on Saturday.

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