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Wolfpack hold off stubborn Cougars

February 09, 2011
Pink was the color of choice at the North Harrison-Crawford County boys' basketball game Friday with the evening being Cancer Awareness Night, and, for most of the game, things were red-hot on the floor as the visiting Cougars and Wolfpack paired up for their annual rivalry. Crawford County finally pulled away in the final quarter and came out with a 57-45 win.

Crawford County’s Parker Hudson comes out of nowhere to send this Colin Book layup into the next county in the first half of the Wolfpack’s 57-45 win. Photo by Wade Bell
"We played hard, but we played hard because they made us," Crawford County coach Mike Brown said. "We really chose to. We've had about five or six good games in a row now, and you know there's a stinker coming somewhere, and you just hope it's not tonight or tomorrow night or the next night."

"Our guys, they played hard," North Harrison coach Greg Walters said. "We're just trying to do the best we can and come out each night and compete. We've talked with the kids at giving 100 percent all the time. Something good has got to happen. There's a Larry Bird quote in there somewhere."

The first few minutes of the game were unusual, to say the least. In honor of those who had lost their battles with cancer, fans were asked to participate in the "Silent 10," where the first 10 points would be scored in silence, with the only sounds heard being the basketball hitting the floor or rim, the players talking to each other, the coaches talking to their players or the officials blowing their whistles and making the calls. Other than that, the gymnasium would remain silent.

For almost four game minutes, the fans respected the request and stayed quiet.

The first nine points belonged to Crawford County, all coming from Alex Baker and Parker Hudson. At the 4:21 mark, a foul was called on the Wolfpack and North Harrison's Colin Book went to the line. Book made the first of two that broke the silence and, from that point on, noise reigned supreme.

Crawford County pushed its lead to 12-1 then the Cougars launched their first run of the night. Book hit a jumper as did Lincoln Jones. Isaac Bowles swished a three, but North Harrison came back with a 7-2 burst to close the gap to four, 17-13, after one quarter.

Crawford County missed its first three shots of the second period while North Harrison connected on four of its first five to take a 23-19 lead. Bowles got a pair of singles and Baker fired a three for a Crawford County edge, but Jones countered inside, putting the Cougars back in front. Hudson scored for Crawford County to lead, but Jones got a putback to finish the half, and the Cougars took a 27-26 lead to the locker room.

"I think a lot of us looking sluggish tonight was North Harrison," Brown said. "There were a lot of loose balls the first half we didn't come up with, and when we didn't, they had easy shots. That's a credit to them for scrapping. It seemed like every time we went for the ball tonight, it went somewhere else. It's been bouncing our way, but tonight it didn't. Usually, when it does, it goes your way. So, you have to give them credit for that."

"They scrapped and played, and once they got back in the game there late in the first quarter, I thought they played hard the rest of the game and hung in there," he said. "They had guys hit shots we didn't think would hit them. We played zone early and then they hit some shots out of that we didn't expect them to hit. Then, we went to man, and I thought we did better in that."

After shooting 64 percent from the field in the first half, the Cougars turned to ice in the third period as they hit just one of 11 attempts from the field, that coming on a Dylan Janes three late in the period. Crawford County outscored North Harrison 10-4 in the eight minutes and took a 36-31 lead.

Josh Totten hit a three to give the Wolfpack a 39-31 lead to start the fourth quarter. Crawford County also got a big defensive block from Hudson who came from nowhere to swat a Book layup into the next county.

North Harrison continued to stay within striking distance until Eric Harned scored inside to start a 6-0 burst for a 48-36 Wolfpack advantage. The game stayed in double digits after that, and Crawford County went on to win, 57-45.

"We ran out of steam in terms of having a hard time scoring," Walters said. "You've got to credit that to their defense. We had stretches where we had a hard time scoring. They played some really good post defense and shut us down. We got some looks there at the basket and couldn't finish them."

"We were sitting here last week feeling pretty good ahead of Southridge, ahead one," Brown said. "Then, we're down one tonight to a basketball team we thought we would be able to control. I think it got our attention some. I thought we had a lot of good defensive possessions the second half."

Bowles led Crawford County with 20 points, and Hudson followed with 12. Crawford County was 17 of 36 (47 percent) from the field and 16 of 20 from the free-throw line. The Wolfpack had nine turnovers in the 32 minutes of play.

Brown said Hudson's big defensive plays have come from something they call "Sellout." Brown said Hudson's big block in the fourth quarter came as a result of that play.

"These four guys up front are selling out," Brown said. "They're going for the steal no matter what. We're leaving him back there. To be honest, he got caught a little higher than he wanted to, but he did a great job of coming down the lane and blocking that."

"One of the reasons you can sell out up here is because you've got a 6-7 guy who's got long arms that can at least stop a shot back there. He made a great hustle play on that. I thought he had one great rebound late on the defensive board in traffic down there. That was a big play."

Corey Smith led North Harrison with 15 points. The Cougars connected on 15 of 36 field goals (42 percent) and 5 of 8 free throws. North Harrison had 16 turnovers.

"We've had a close one about every week, and we've been in several of these games down the stretch and had a chance to make a play here or there," Walters said. "It seems like we don't get that play or haven't made it yet. We'll keep pointing it out and keep working with it. The kids are all staying positive. We're staying positive. We're going to do our best to get some in the other column, to win some."

Crawford County's conference game of the season is tomorrow night (Thursday), when the Wolfpack (12-4, 4-0 Patoka Lake Athletic Conference) meet West Washington (11-4, 3-0) at 7:30. Crawford County will have one conference game remaining, against Paoli (1-14, 0-4), while West Washington must meet Orleans (11-4, 4-1) and Mitchell (4-9, 1-3). Brown said the game could mean the conference championship.

"I think whoever wins that is guaranteed a share, but we're not interested in a share," Brown said. "If you don't win that one, you're going to lose the conference. We have to win that one. That is basically for the conference championship.

"Now, they have big games after that and we still have Paoli after that, but you have to look at this game coming in like it's the conference championship. That's how we're approaching it."

North Harrison fell at Heritage Hills, 57-41, Saturday night. The Cougars (3-12, 0-7 Mid-Southern Conference) now will return to conference action, as they will host Charlestown tomorrow night and then travel to Clarksville Tuesday night, Feb. 15. Both games will tip at 7:30.

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