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Senators use FTs to override Wolfpack

February 13, 2008
The West Washington Senators missed just one free throw in 20 attempts Thursday night to override the visiting Crawford County Wolfpack, 60-53, to gain a Patoka Lake Athletic Conference win.

Crawford County's Ryan Griffith somehow gets this reverse off despite some double-armed blockage by West Washington's Chase Thompson. (Photo by Wade Bell)
"You've got to give them a lot of credit," Crawford coach Mike Brown said. "I thought they played well and spread us out. They seem to be getting better as the year has gone on. I saw them early and saw them in the middle, and if you look at their scores, they've been close and closer to some really good teams."

"We've been playing pretty good basketball," Senator coach Neil Coyle said. "What we've lacked is being able to complete a game the last four minutes. Hopefully, the kids learned a lot tonight about how to do that."

The entire first quarter was close, with three ties and six lead changes, as West Washington held a 19-17 lead after the first eight minutes.

The Senators put themselves up by four in the second quarter on a Cory Batt deuce. Ean Edwards scored inside for the Wolfpack, but the Senator lead later went to five when Chase Thompson connected on a short jumper.

Bo Benham got the Wolfpack a free throw and Edwards followed with a three-ball, pulling Crawford within one, 25-24. Josh Green, however, answered for the Senators with a three.

Ryan Griffith got two of those back, then the Senators turned the ball over. Crawford put up a last-second three-pointer, but it bounced off the rim, and West Washington took a 28-26 lead to the locker room at halftime.

"We did a pretty good job of scrambling and hurrying them up in the first half," Brown said. "They were killing us with their halfcourt offense. They were too quick at five positions for us to do anything with. Then, we tried playing both our zones, playing man, and just could not keep them out of the lane."

"I tell kids with Crawford, you've got to watch out for all of them," Coyle said. "They play team basketball. They make extra passes. You never know who's going to be open for a shot. You've just got to guard everybody. I think we're starting to play that same way."

Edwards put Crawford out in front with a three-pointer early in the third quarter, but Green later negated that with his own three. Dustin Bowling and Jonathon Bowles then both scored inside for a 33-31 Wolfpack advantage.

Following a short trading session, Ryan Griffith got a single and Spencer Griswold got four points in the paint, as Crawford extended its lead to 45-40. West Washington was unshaken, however, and bounced back with a 7-2 run to tie the game at 42 with eight minutes left.

"When you're ahead, which we haven't been much, you want to be a little bit more careful," Brown said. "We wanted to keep putting pressure on them, because, even ahead, we didn't want them setting up their offense and running it. We took some quick shots. It's not anything bad. We're trying too hard."

Griffith put Crawford out in front again in the fourth quarter and Bowling added to that with a deuce-and-one for a 47-42 Crawford lead. Then, the free-throw line came into play as Green and Thompson sank four straight for the Senators. Green added another three and Jordon Clements got a deuce-and-one for a 52-47 Senator advantage.

Bowling got two free throws with three minutes left to pull Crawford within three. West Washington turned the ball over, but Crawford misfired. Green scored inside, and the Senator lead was back to 54-49.

The Wolfpack fouled in the final minute to get the ball back, but the Senators connected on all six free throws, holding off Crawford for the 60-53 win.

"We tried to hurry them up in the second half, and we did a pretty good job of that," Brown said. "You're going to give some shots up when you do that, and we gave us some that they missed that got us that lead. We gave up a few that we had guys flying at them, and they hit shots that got them back in it. We tried doing the right thing, but it ended up costing us free throws and fouls."

"What you've got there is two teams with a lot of kids that are getting the feel of what the difference is between JV and varsity," Coyle said. "I think coach Brown has a lot of anxiety attacks with his kids like we have. The thing is, they're a good basketball team. They've been right where we're at the whole year. They've played with everybody they've played, but the 'W's' don't show it. They're very capable of beating anybody on any given night. So are we."

Bowling led Crawford (5-12) with 16 points, and Griffith came off the bench for 12. The Wolfpack hit 17 of 43 field goal attempts (39 percent) and 13 of 19 free throws. Crawford made 11 turnovers.

"Both of our fives did a really good job," Brown said. "Spencer did a nice job in there. Dustin did a nice job. We got some things off of that where, if we didn't score, we were able to pitch it out and get shots for our other guys."

"We talked at halftime about how we thought they would start doubling down and helping off because they couldn't let us go one-on-one with us all night," he said. "That's what they did, but I thought our post guys did a good job of taking shots when they were there and kicking it out when they weren't. We're down to four or five bad possessions."

Thompson led West Washington (6-10) with 18 points, hitting all 10 of his free-throw attempts, and Green had four three-pointers in his 16-point effort. The Senators shot 17 of 42 (40 percent) from the field. Coyle said the free-throw shooting became contagious.

"When kids are hitting them, they all feel it," he said. "They all get that rhythm. We were on the other end of it a couple of weeks ago. A couple of kids missed a little bit, and it's like the flu — it spreads. Once kids start stepping up and knocking them down, everybody had confidence."

"I feel like we're really close for a long time now," Brown said. "We've got kids with their heads hanging and now we're in that thing where we're a little bit anxious, a little bit nervous, instead of just playing. What we've got to do is just get in an all-in mode. We're all-in on every hand.

"I thought tonight we probably played better when we were scrambling and scrapping, because we were thinking less. We need to play more like that."

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