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Crawford cages Bulldogs, 65-55

January 21, 2009
Before their game against visiting conference rival Orleans Friday night, Crawford County coach Mike Brown reminded his team of its embarrassing 40-point loss to the Bulldogs last year. He was hoping that might give his players some motivation to see a different outcome this time.

Crawford County's Andrew Curl gets up to his neck in defense as he tries to put pressure on Orleans senior Evan Johnson in the Wolfpack's 65-55 win. (Photo by Wade Bell)
"We showed them the last 20 seconds of the game last year," Brown said. "We're down 37 and they had a guy shoot a three at the buzzer and hit it on us, and we get beat by 40. That's the last thing they saw before they took the floor."

It worked, as the Wolfpack bounced back for a 65-55 win.

"Our kids were really keyed up for this game because we felt like we didn't show anything last year," Brown said. "We were just a beating board last year for them. We knew we were better than that, and we knew this year we had a better chance to match up with them. We were ready for it mentally because of that."

Orleans, however, might have also been thinking about last year and used a 9-2 run midway in the first period to take a 15-6 lead.

Crawford bounced back in the second period as Jordan Newkirk and Daniel Allen pulled the Wolfpack within two, 17-15. Isaac Bowles then notched the game at 17. From that point, it was a dogfight, but Orleans held a two-point edge at the break, 26-24.

A key to Orleans staying out front was its ability to get to the basket by going inside.

"They did a great job of stopping in the lane and shooting," Brown said. "It's hard to define high school kids anymore that when they commit to the drive, they can stop five, seven, eight feet from the basket, pull up on you right when you're trying to take the charge and hit a shot. I thought they did a bunch of that."

Crawford got its first lead midway through the third period on a Dustin Bowling three-ball. Orleans came back to lead by six, but Crawford scored the last five of the period to cut the deficit to one.

In the fourth period, Jonathon Bowles put Crawford back in front, but Cameron Carroll countered for the Bulldogs.

Allen then got hot for Crawford, nailing a pair of threes in a 7-2 burst for a 52-48 advantage. Jonathan Smith later pulled Orleans within one with a deuce-and-one.

Allen nailed another three, then Jordan Newkirk stole the ball for a deuce as the Wolfpack took a 59-53 lead. Crawford held on from that point for the 65-55 win.

"Danny's threes certainly gave us some breathing room," Brown said. "It allowed us to go and play some zone, because we just couldn't handle their guards man to man."

"Our advantage tonight was the bench," he said. "They've got some young guys who are not quite ready to step up and play like our older guys who are sitting there waiting to play. That was really the only difference in the game."

Bowling led the Wolfpack with 20 points and nine rebounds, and Newkirk and Allen finished with 12 each. The Wolfpack were 22 of 43 (51 percent) from the field and 18 of 28 from the free-throw line. Crawford committed just seven turnovers.

"Dustin walked by me at seventh period today on the way out the building, and the last thing I said to him was, 'Double-double.' He came pretty close to it," Brown said. "He certainly worked hard enough to get one. He gives us a unique thing. Dustin can really get by you and he can shoot off balance and he can shoot free throws, if you foul him. He knows that, and we're playing him on the edge a lot more just because it gets him a little bit of an advantage."

Evan Johnson led Orleans with 16 points, and Smith added 14. The Bulldogs also shot well, hitting 21 of 39 field-goal attempts (53 percent) and 11 of 15 free throws. Orleans turned the ball over 13 times.

"We couldn't do anything with Johnson at all except to try to wear him down," Brown said. "He made some great plays throughout the game Isaac (Bowles) and Andrew (Curl) did a great job guarding Johnson, but Johnson did a great job playing against them. The same thing with (Jordan) Newkirk on the (Jonathon) Smith kid. That was a good battle all night."

"We're fairly even in a lot of ways," Brown said. "I thought from the seven-minute mark in the fourth quarter on, they were winded and we had them in a little foul trouble to where they couldn't sub the way they wanted to sub and we were in the bonus.

"From that point on, I thought we really crashed the boards hard, played pretty good defense got them where they missed some of those shots late that they hit early. I think a lot of it was they were just worn out."

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The Wolfpack (6-5, 2-1) defeated Corydon Central, 89-82, in double-overtime on Saturday night.

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