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Lady Pack rally falls short to Salem in sectional, 59-57

Class 3A Sectional at Charlestown: First Round

February 16, 2011
After roaring back from a 20-point deficit early in the second half, the Crawford County girls' basketball team came up just short to see its season end in a 59-57 loss to the Salem Lady Lions in the opening round of the Class 3A Sectional 30 at Charlestown. Poor shooting early led to a hole too deep for the Lady Pack to dig themselves out of.

"Our kids battled back," Crawford County coach Alan Cox said. "There was no quit in them. Honestly, there wasn't any point in time in that game that I really didn't feel like our kids weren't going to come back and make a game out of it."

At first, it appeared the Lady Pack might have a good shooting night when Chelsea Jellison buried a quick three-ball to begin the game. From there, however, Crawford County misfired on its next nine attempts, managing just three free throws for the scoreboard as the Lady Lions took a 9-5 lead.

Crawford County's shooting woes continued in the second period as the Lady Pack missed their first 10 shots before Kayla Toney got a putback with 2:05 left in the half. The Lady Pack again went cold, missing their next six shots before Ashley Forbes scored inside.

Jellison had two free throws go in for the period as Salem, which was 7 of 14 from the field in the period, took a 27-11 lead at halftime. Crawford County was just 3 of 26 from the field for the half.

"We had a lot of shots we didn't finish," Cox said. "That's kind of been our story all year long, just finishing shots. Tonight, it was just meant to be Salem's night. How many shots did they shoot that they banked in or just shot some wild running shots that went in? They hit the basket and we didn't. Give credit to Salem. They did a nice job defensively. They took us out of our game offensively."

The first four minutes of the third quarter saw Salem add to its lead, as Brittany Walker sank a three and deuce to give the Lady Lions a 39-19 advantage. It was at that point that Crawford County began its run back into the game as Forbes scored inside to start an 11-2 run to close within 11, 41-30. Salem got two freebies, but Crawford County finished the period with a single and deuce to close the gap to 10, 43-33, with eight minutes left to play.

"One of the things we had some problems with early in the second half, we went to our full-court pressure," Cox said. "We were leaving some people, and early on we gave up too many easy layups because the kids were over-reacting to the trap. Once we got our kids to kind of be a little more patient and let that trap come to them, things started to come together."

Jellison banged in another three to close the gap to seven to start the fourth period. The next few minutes became a swap meet between the two teams, but Crawford County then put together a 10-0 run to pull to within 58-57 with 24.9 seconds left, as the Lady Pack canned 7 of 8 free throws while Salem missed six straight.

Ashley Malloy sank a Salem single following a Crawford County time-out. The Lady Pack were unable to get a shot off in the final 16 seconds and eventually turned the ball over as Salem ended their season, 59-57.

"I wouldn't trade this bunch of kids for any team in this sectional," Cox said. "Win or lose, these kids are winners all the way around. We didn't come out on top of the scoreboard tonight, but anybody sitting here watching this game, there's no way they can say these kids aren't winners, because there's probably not a team in the sectional that could be able to come back."

Forbes led Crawford County (13-9) with 19 points, with 17 coming in the second half. Jellison and Toney finished with 15 each for the Lady Pack, who finished 17 of 63 from the field (27 percent) and 18 of 30 from the line. The Lady Pack had 13 turnovers.

"We have our weaknesses in some areas, but what a great group of kids," Cox said. "I've got four seniors in there that give you everything you ask for. Carolyn Pellman today was named an academic all-state player These kids go to class. They show up for class. They work hard in the classroom. They worked hard every day in practice this year. That's one of the few teams I've had that work on a consistent basis."

Annie Newkirk led Salem (15-6) with 16 points, and Kaitlyn Lamb followed with 14. The Lady Lions connected on 19 of 46 field goals (41 percent) and 13 of 28 free throws. Salem had 19 turnovers for the game.

"Salem was just a better team tonight," Cox said. "It just wasn't meant to be."

"These kids come from good homes," he said. "They all have good parents that care about them, and they have a lot of parents who support them. … A coach was asked one time what was the best team he every coached. His reply was, 'It's the team that had the best parents.' That's kind of the case with this, because we've got a great group of parents, and that's why these kids are good."

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