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Crawford can't pull hat trick

Crawford County Sectional Semi-Final

March 11, 2009
After rallying from a double-digit deficit to beat Mitchell in its first-round game, the Crawford County boys' basketball team was hoping for a second hat trick against Silver Creek in the semi-final round. In this case, however, the rabbit stayed in the hat and Crawford saw its season come to an end in a 76-71 nail-biter.

"The semi-finals of anything, it doesn't matter what it is, you're going to have teams playing pretty well or they wouldn't be there," Crawford coach Mike Brown said. "Almost all semi-final games are close games that come down to a shot or two or a bounce or two. We left everything out there. It did not bounce our way."

Crawford County junior Andrew Curl flies around Silver Creek's Nick Townsend in the Wolfpack's 76-71 semi-final loss. (Photo by Wade Bell)
Crawford took a 18-16 lead in the first quarter, but Silver Creek then broke away as Cody Jackson came off the bench for a flurry of three-balls as the Dragons used a 15-0 run to push to a 35-22 lead.

Kyle Roberts punched in a deuce and three for Crawford, then teammates Jordan Newkirk and Andrew Curl finished off a 9-0 burst to close the gap to four.

The Dragons countered with a Jack Eckert deuce and free throws by Spencer Robinson as Silver Creek took a 39-31 lead to the locker room at halftime.

"We talked at halftime about how tournament games are games of runs," Brown said. "They're going to have some, you're going to have some. You've got to be able to weather the storm when they get theirs, and you've got to be able to milk yours for all you can."

Crawford had a 6-0 burst to start the second half, converting on two Silver Creek turnovers, to pull within two at 39-37.

Robinson swished a Dragon three, but Jonathon Bowles and Newkirk scored the next four points. Michael Bradley, however, drilled a three to start an 8-0 run for the Dragons.

The runs continued back and forth until Silver Creek broke loose again, this time for eight unanswered points. Ryan Griffith got two of those back for the Wolfpack, but a Bradley bucket gave Silver Creek a 60-50 lead heading into the final quarter.

"It seemed like every little run out that they shot all bounced and went in," Brown said. "We had so many that went in and bounced out. We'd throw it into the post and we'd shoot and the ball would bounce hard. We'd be flying for the rebound and there it goes. We'd be getting those bounces some, and you just don't know when you're not going to get them."

Silver Creek's lead briefly went to 12, but Crawford rallied again to within four following an inside deuce by Curl. Will McCall scored six in an 8-2 burst by the Dragons, but Daniel Allen drilled back-to-back three-balls to pull Crawford within four, 72-68, with 1:18 left.

Ryan Griffith later sank a freebie to close the gap to three, but Bradley negated that with another free throw.

Dustin Bowling scored with six seconds left to cut the Crawford gap to two. Jackson, however, finished off the game a second later with a free throw and deuce for the 76-71 Dragon win.

"We didn't give up on a ball all night, and there were two or three times we got some good steals later that were just hustle plays," Brown said. "We could get so close, but we couldn't get over the hump."

Bowling led the Wolfpack (13-9) with 16 points, and Newkirk finished with 12. Curl dumped in 11 points, and Griffith added 10 for Crawford, who connected on 27 of 62 (43 percent) from the floor. Crawford hit 11 of 17 free throws and committed 14 turnovers.

"We had a lot of things go our way and we got them in foul trouble," Brown said. "We wanted to get the game up and down the floor and score off the break, which we did. We shot fairly well. We had a lot of balls that didn't go in early that we're used to going in, especially under the basket, but we hit some really big shots."

Robinson led Silver Creek (13-9) with 25 points, and Cody Jackson checked in with 14. McCall finished with 12 points. The Dragons shot well, hitting 32 of 47 (68 percent) from the field, but made only 6 of 16 free throws. Like Crawford, Silver Creek made 14 turnovers.

"They're a good ball-handling team with good big men who can run the floor and score," Brown said. "That was our biggest fear in having to press them. When we got behind, we had no choice but to try to scramble some. We got some steals out of it, but every time we didn't get a steal, they got a basket."

Brown said his five seniors have paved the way for the younger players and the experience those young players got will lead to bigger things for the program.

"It's going to be hard for us without these seniors," Brown said, "but coming back and looking at what we have coming back, we've got a lot of young guys with some quality playing time this year in some pretty big games and some close games that I think down the road will help us some. We're excited about that."

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