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Crawford wins over stubborn Orleans


January 23, 2008
Crawford County held off a stubborn Lady Bulldog team from visiting Orleans, 41-34, on Senior Night Thursday in the Lady Pack's final Patoka Lake Athletic Conference game of the season.

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Crawford County junior Chelsea Benham splits her way between Orleans' Haley Elliott, left, and Sara Talbert in the first half of the Lady Pack's 41-34 win. (Photo by Wade Bell)
"I didn't think we had a very good practice Tuesday and Wednesday," Crawford coach Eric Toney said. "It just seemed like we weren't into things well, and I was kind of apprehensive about this game."

It was a rough-and-tumble game from the start, with three lead changes and three ties in the first four minutes. Crawford finally found some range as Kacey Cox fired up a three for a 10-7 lead. Chelsey Barron followed that with a pair of threes to finish out a 9-2 run for a 16-9 Lady Pack advantage after the first eight minutes.

Crawford held Orleans to just five field goal attempts in the second quarter, with the Lady Bulldogs' Cassie Adams getting a deuce late in the quarter. Chelsea Benham had all six of Crawford's points in the eight minutes, as the Lady Pack took a 22-12 lead at halftime.

"Offensively, they played us a lot of 1-3-1 (zone defense)," Toney said. "I don't know how good it was, but it didn't have to be. We just did not attack it very well. Obviously, we're not prepared, and that's my fault. I knew they played it some, but I thought we could pretty well run our regular passing game zone offense and spread it out a little bit.

"It seemed like we were confused. Our passes were not very sharp. If you don't pass the ball well, I don't care what kind of offense you run against a zone. It doesn't have to be very good. They're going to get deflections and they're going to make some steals. We're not going to get good shots. We struggled some against it."

Orleans pulled back into the game as Adams scored inside twice to cut the deficit to six. Crawford stretched the lead back out to 10, 29-19, with the help of a Barron three in a 7-3 burst. Whitney Bradley got her only points of the game with two free throws to keep Orleans within single digits after three quarters.

Toney admitted he had a few nerves when his team, which went into its passing game in the third period, saw its lead suddenly shrink to six.

"We've had some awful third quarters," he said. "I could see us squandering what had been a decent lead. When you're up on somebody 22-12, 10 points is a pretty good-sized lead because of the number of points being scored. The way they can hit three-pointers, they've only lost three or four, they're a tough team. They're used to winning. I knew they weren't going to give up, so I was concerned, particularly the way we were passing the ball."

Orleans pulled within seven points early into the fourth period, but Kayla Parr and Shelby Holt put together four points for a 33-22 Lady Pack advantage.

The Lady Bulldogs made one last run, with Emily Grace and Megan Busick getting threes and Briana Barton getting a deuce to finish an 8-2 run, but Orleans ran out of clock and Crawford had the 41-34 win.

"They've got, on any given moment, at least three people who can score from the outside, if you give them time," Toney said. "So, we're scrambling and making sure we get a hand up on the outside shooter. We didn't react well to the shot as far as rebounding it. That's probably a weakness in playing that box-and-one defense. It's something we have to be concerned about."

Benham led the Lady Pack (13-4) with 16 points, and Barron finished with 11 for the night. Crawford shot well from the field, connecting on 16 of 30 field goals (53 percent), but the Lady Pack misfired eight times on 13 free-throw attempts. Crawford made 19 turnovers.

Toney took time to praise his two seniors Barron and Megan Laswell.

"We have some really good seniors," he said. "Megan Laswell hasn't had a lot of playing time this year, has been a JV player most of her career. … I told her in there she's probably improved more than any player on the floor, with a very good attitude all the way.

"Chelsey Barron, her leadership from her has been important from when she was a freshman, but particularly the last three years, when she's had some good people to work with. She'll be sorely missed."

Adams led the Lady Bulldogs with 11 points, while Grace was held to just three for the game. Orleans (11-4) hit just 13 of 37 field goals (35 percent). The Lady Bulldogs were 7 of 17 from the charity stripe and committed 15 turnovers.

"Defensively, I thought we did an excellent job," Toney said. "Grace is a very quality player. I've seen her score 25 and 30 points. She can score from two or three steps behind the three-point line. We decided to chase her, and I think she only got three shots and she hit one. I think she was frustrated."

Crawford, who is second in the PLAC standings at 5-1, must now get some help from Perry Central, who takes on conference leader Mitchell Saturday afternoon.

"Miracles do happen in this world, and that would be a minor miracle," Toney said. "Perry has played some pretty good ball. We were in there kind of lamenting the fact this game the last two years has been for the conference championship. This year, we'll have to have some help to tie for the conference championship.

"If somebody would have told me three years ago when we started that we'd only lose one game in three years in the conference, I would have taken it in a heartbeat. Now, going back to that Mitchell game, I think we're a better team than we were then. I think with losses comes improvement, so I'm not going to cry too much because I think we're a better team because we lost some of those games and that was one of them."

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