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Wolfpack escape Valley, 63-61

January 12, 2011
The Crawford County Wolfpack boys' basketball team barely held on Friday night to nose out visiting Springs Valley, 63-61, in Patoka Lake Athletic Conference play. While the Wolfpack did manage a homecoming victory, it was one that coach Mike Brown was less than pleased about.

"Our problems are between the ears," Brown said. "We've just got miles to go. It's the most confusing team I think I've ever coached, because, usually by the ninth or 10th game, you know what you have and where things are going to develop. They're all trying, and I'll give them credit for that."

Crawford County had trouble pulling away from the Blackhawks early, but the Wolfpack then got six straight points from center Parker Hudson for a 17-10 lead and led by seven at the end of the first quarter.

Valley pulled within three midway through the second quarter with a deuce-and-one from Curtis Crow. Crawford County's lead went back to five with a Jordan Newkirk bucket, but Crow was there again with a pair of deuces to pull the Blackhawks within one at 25-24. Crawford County got some momentum in the last two minutes with a 9-4 burst to take a 32-28 lead to the locker room at halftime.

While Crawford County's defense was keeping Valley in check most of the time, one thing the Blackhawks did find open more than once was a baseline backdoor.

"We do not have guards and forwards with a theft mentality of 'If this ball goes in the air, I'm going after it. It's a layup for me on the other end'," Brown said. "We hang back hoping we don't get beat. Well, now we trap the ball and they throw an easy pass out of the trap and now we have two guys all the way up the court who are out of position to help. Now, they're off to the races. You sell out as a team when you trap the ball. You're going to give some jumpers and some open shots away."

Hudson got a deuce to begin the second half for a 36-28 Crawford County advantage, but the Blackhawks answered big with a 12-0 run to lead 40-36. The two teams swapped baskets for the next several minutes, but Newkirk scored late as the Wolfpack deficit was cut to one, 49-48, with eight minutes to play.

Sylis Morin and Crow put in a three and deuce, respectively, to begin the fourth quarter for a 54-48 Blackhawk lead. The Wolfpack responded with a 9-2 run to lead 57-56 with 3:44 left. Morin got a Valley free throw to tie, but Newkirk answered by driving the baseline twice for buckets and a 61-57 Crawford County lead.

Inside of two minutes, Sebastian Baggett scored in the paint and Morin added a pair from the stripe to tie the game again. On Crawford County's next possession, Hudson scored inside as the Wolfpack once again went out in front, 63-61, with 53 seconds left.

Valley called two time-outs, and the Blackhawks then worked the ball for the last shot. Morin fired from behind the arc with two seconds left, but the ball went left, bouncing into Crawford County hands as the Wolfpack came away with the two-point win.

"We made a couple of big plays on offense and we made a couple of big plays on defense, but we should have never been in that position to begin with," Brown said. "Whenever you let somebody hang around and you come down the last couple of minutes of the game and it's within a point or two, you're just hoping things go your way. That's about all we can really say."

Newkirk led the night with a game-high 30 points, and Hudson finished with a career-high 18. Alex Baker came away with 13 points on the night. Crawford County was 25 of 47 from the field (53 percent) but 12 of 22 from the charity stripe. The Wolfpack had 12 turnovers.

Despite three of his seniors combining for 61 of the team's points, Brown said his senior players are going to have to do a lot more in a leadership role than what they've shown so far during the season if they expect good things in the postseason.

"Our senior bunch is a good bunch of kids," he said. "They have a lot of distractions. Their distractions are homemade … I've been around enough teams to know if you don't have that desire to make this your life for these three months, especially when you're a senior, you really jeopardize some great memories that you can have, and I'm not sure where our heads are when it comes to that. I've never had a group more distracted by silly things than this group."

Morin led Springs Valley with 22 points, and Lance Webster checked in with 14. Crow cashed in with 11 points for the Blackhawks, who also shot well, hitting 22 of 39 from the field (56 percent) but 7 of 13 from the free-throw line. Turnovers were a problem for the Blackhawks, who committed 20.

"We had enough on moments to score two more points than them," Brown said. "We were ahead 10 or 12 early in the game just off nothing spectacular. Then, Parker gets his second foul, a dumb foul. We've got to take him out … And then the game changes. They see him go to the bench, and now the shot blocker is gone. Now, they start attacking the basket and were jumping trying to block shots."

"We might just need to play a little softer," Brown said, "not try to speed the game up so much, although I think that's to our advantage. Play half-court-possession basketball instead of trying to run and play a more fun way. But right now, we're not getting that done."

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