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Free throws seal Perry win over Wolfpack

January 30, 2008
Friday night's boys' basketball game between Crawford County and Perry Central was a typical royal rumble for four quarters before the Commodores used the free-throw line to secure a 64-60 win.

Crawford County's Daniel Allen, left, does a little bit of thievery as he picks the pocket of Perry Central's T.J. Lamon in the second half. The Commodores, however, came out with 64-60 win. (Photo by Wade Bell)
"It was a great battle," said Perry coach Matt Carter, who has gone through his share of rumbles against Crawford. "We knew it was going to be tough to come in here and win. It always is. No matter what kind of team they have or what we have, it's always a battle."

"We tried awfully hard," Crawford coach Mike Brown said. "They did a nice job, but we're still struggling just to figure out who to play when. We should already have that done, but we don't. For us it's been, which five is playing the best that night. It's taking us too long to find that out."

The Commodores were on fire in the first period, and it was evident from the get-go as Zach Rogier and Nick Huber knocked down three-balls for a 6-0 Perry lead. Crawford bounced back to pull within one, but Perry scored the next seven points to lead 16-7. Spencer Griswold dumped in a Crawford deuce, but Wes Linette scored the next six for Perry. Dustin Bowling finally put the Wolfpack into double digits, but Perry held a 22-11 lead after one quarter, going 9 of 13 from the field.

Huber pushed the lead to 30-13 with his own 8-2 run. Crawford fought to stay in the hunt as Ean Edwards sank a three and Bo Benham got a pair from the charity stripe. Linette scored inside, but Griswold countered with an old-fashioned three. Perry finished out the half with Rogier getting a deuce and later three free throws to give the Commodores a 37-21 lead at halftime.

"We didn't have very many good offensive possessions early except that we got them in some foul trouble," Brown said. "Once we got them there we could not make any hay out of it . ...We didn't hit any free throws, first of all, which would have kept it a little bit closer. We made a nice run there at the end of the half. We gave up three free throws with one second to go. It just seemed like every time we started to get something going, it went right back to them making a big shot."

Crawford started to make up some ground in the third period, with Bowling scoring quickly to start an 8-2 burst that included threes by Benham and Daniel Allen. The Commodores saw their shooting chill as they hit just 2 of 8 from the field. T.J. Lamon drilled a Perry three, but Crawford finished the period with a 5-0 burst to close the gap to 42-34.

"We did a good job the second half coming out and turning things up a little bit," Brown said. "We did a good job of going to the basket so we could draw more fouls. I felt like we could either get fouled or they would back away not wanting to get in foul trouble, so we got some stuff done in there."

Perry pushed its lead to 11, but Benham fired in a three to pull Crawford within eight. With five minutes to go, Edwards scored inside to shrink the gap to six.

The two teams traded free throws, but then with just over three minutes to go, Jonathon Bowling got his own put-back to close Crawford's deficit to four, 55-51.

But that would be as close as the Wolfpack would get. Huber and Linette used the free-throw line to their advantage to keep the Wolfpack at arm's length. Daniel Allen got a final three, but Perry walked away with the 64-60 win.

"We got ahead early there, played real well and got a nice lead, and they came after us with some pressure," Carter said. "They were running three or four guys in and out at a time and stayed fresh. They were trying to wear us down, but we were able to make our free throws there late to pull away with it."

"Late, I thought they did a very good job getting the ball to their best free-throw shooters," Brown said. "We tried very hard and could not keep it out of their hands. We're not quick enough or tall enough to keep it from Huber, and when they doubled him, they got it to Linette, and he did a nice job."

"We need to have more consistent play from everybody," the Crawford coach said. "We don't need any heroics. I think what gets us in trouble is too many dribbles, shots that are taken that aren't open shots. It's not selfishness. It's just trying to help the team win. We get too excited about that at times."

Bowling led Crawford (5-8) with 12 points, and Allen followed with 11. Benham, who suffered a knee injury in the fourth quarter, finished with 10 points. Crawford was 21 of 48 (43 percent) from the field and hit 10 of 16 free throws. The Wolfpack turned the ball over 12 times.

"We've got a calico cat of colors of guys," Brown said. "We've just got a little bit of everything. We don't have a dominating player at any position. If we're late and we need a basket and who do we go to? We try to go to whoever's doing a good job that night. It may be somebody different tomorrow."

Huber led the Commodores with 27 points, who connected on three threes and 10 of 12 free throws. Linette finished with 17 points, making 7 of 9 free-throws, and Rogier had 10 points. Perry was 19 of 40 (47 percent) from the field, hit 20 of 24 free throws and had 15 turnovers.

"Our strategy was to keep the ball in (Huber's and Linette's) hands down the stretch because they're our clutch free-throw shooters," Carter said.

"It's a growing up process for a lot of our kids right now," Brown said. "They're doing some really good things. They're trying very hard. We have no complaint at all with their effort. We just need to get over the hump and start doing. If we do that, we're going to be a little bit different to play against."

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