December 19, 2012For three quarters, the Crawford County Wolfpack and host Northeast Dubois Jeeps seemed to be running through thick mud in their Saturday night game. It wasn't until the fourth quarter that the Wolfpack finally got into some dry ground and got some traction to go on to a 52-40 win, keeping their record clean at 5-0.
"They played last night and we didn't," Crawford County coach Mike Brown County. "We knew we maybe could wear them down a little bit by using our bench if they could sustain things for us. There were times where we had two or three subs on there and we actually got a little more done. So, that's good to see, because, as we're going along, we're going to have to have different guys every night. We don't have that one guy every night that's going to get the big shots."
Crawford County’s Ranger Caffrey, left, came off of the bench to put down four three-pointers in the Wolfpack’s 52-40 win. Photo by Wade Bell
The Jeeps were coming into the game off of a big win against Forest Park the night before. Northeast Dubois coach Terry Friedman said he didn't get the momentum he was hoping for after the Jeeps' win over the Rangers.
"I don't know if I want to use the word 'letdown,' but, I guess, it was a little bit," he said. "We came out sluggish tonight. It seemed like we really didn't get out of our funk. …The kids just didn't respond well tonight coming back. We're going to have to work on our toughness a little bit there. It's early in the season, and we've just got to get better."
Both teams moved at a slow pace early in the game and neither had a good first quarter as Crawford County turned over the ball seven times while Dubois coughed it up four times. The Wolfpack managed a couple of more shots, hitting five of 11, while the Jeeps canned just three of 14 attempts.
Crawford County also found a problem with fouls, as senior starter Jordan Nickelson was hit with two in the first period, and, after the first eight minutes, the Wolfpack had just a 12-9 lead.
"We tried to speed it up a little when we could, but, to be honest, once Nickelson got his second foul and then his third foul, we were all right with it being slowed down," Brown said. "We were trying to kill a little bit of clock till we could get him back in there. We have to have him in the game."
Bryce Huebner buried a three, allowing Dubois to close the gap to one. Crawford County countered with six straight points for an 18-11 advantage. The Wolfpack pushed their advantage to nine following a three by Ranger Caffrey and free throws by Bandon Cate.
The Jeeps, however, made a run late in the period, as Huebner sank a three to start an 8-0 run to close the Dubois deficit to one, 25-24, at halftime.
"We went on a nice run there at the end of the second quarter," Friedman said. "I felt like we went to the dressing room with some really good momentum."
The biggest problem for Crawford County was Nickelson's three fouls, but Caffrey, a sophomore, was making up for the senior's loss.
"We've been after him (Nickelson) to be more aggressive on offense and defense," Brown said. "Some nights you just run into some fouls. Everybody that hustles is going to get two or three fouls. If you get down to the end of a game and you've played 25 of 32 minutes and you don't have three fouls, then you haven't really been out there."
Dubois' worst period of the game came in the third with the Jeeps connecting on just one of seven field-goal attempts. Crawford County did a little better, hitting four of seven, and held a 35-30 edge with one period to go.
Huebner pulled the Jeeps back to within three to begin the fourth period, but Crawford County got the next seven points, which included a free throw on a Jeeps technical foul. That put the Wolfpack's advantage in double digits at 44-34.
Dubois managed to cut its deficit to five at one point, but the Jeeps got no closer, as Crawford County walked away with the 52-40 win.
"I think everybody that we threw in there, at times, did a pretty good job," Brown said. "On a night like tonight, where we've got Jordan sitting more than often, I thought Remi (Griswold), (Brandon) Hawkins, Caffrey, I really thought we got some decent play from all those guys at times. We really have to have it."
"It's early in the season, and we're coming off a big emotional win with our victory last night over Forest Park," Friedman said. "I didn't think we came out with a real resolve and purpose tonight, and I guess some of that was from last night."
Brandon Cate led the Wolfpack with 14 points, and Caffrey came off the bench for 12 points on four three-pointers. The Wolfpack were 18 of 39 (46 percent) from the field and 12 of 15 from the free-throw line. Crawford County had 13 turnovers.
Brown said Caffrey has been putting in time on the junior varsity team to shake early nerves and it seems to be working.
"I think the two JV quarters playing him are really helping him, because the last couple of varsity games we've put him in he's been more relaxed," Brown said. "If he's set, he's our best shooter. He's a little slow getting it off, so he's finding now JV games are a little different than varsity games. You really have to get the ball out of your hands. Tonight, we ran a couple of things for him, and he delivered."
"(Caffrey) came in off the bench and hit some big threes on us there," Friedman said. "It looked like our zone was pretty effective against them there in that second quarter. He found some corner shots for them. He really hurt us that second half."
Huebner led the Jeeps (2-3) with 19 points, and Tyler Haas followed with 10. Dubois shot just 11 of 40 from the field (28 percent) but hit 13 of 16 free throws. The Jeeps committed just eight turnovers.
"We did not play with a lot of passion and energy tonight," Friedman said. "You just can't do that in varsity high school basketball. Crawford County has got a really nice team. They're 5-0 after tonight, and, if we want to win these games, we're going to have to come out with a real resolve and purpose from the start."
"I thought our kids did a really good job adjusting at halftime and then staying in their area and keeping (Huebner) from getting open looks," Brown said. "The ones he hit tonight were pretty good shots."