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Crawford falls to Charlestown

March 09, 2011
The Crawford County boys' basketball team brought a tidal wave of orange to the Salem gymnasium Friday night in hopes of sinking the Charlestown Pirates in the semi-final round of the Class 3A Sectional. The Wolfpack and their fans, however, left in a sea of tears as the Pirates pulled out a 49-39 win to end Crawford County's season.

Crawford County’s Isaac Bowles flies through the Charlestown defense toward the basket in the first half. The Wolfpack saw their season come to an end in a 49-39 loss. Photo by Wade Bell
For Crawford County coach Mike Brown, it was a disappointing night because it was the first four-year team in his career not to claim a sectional title.

"I've been there and I know how it feels (to win one), so I want them to be able to feel that," Brown said. "At the same time, with this sectional, with the way it was this year and with our draw, as soon as I saw that draw Sunday night, I thought, 'We're going to have to have three perfect games on the road, and we're going to have to have them in four nights.' Our bench is not as deep and experienced as it has been in the past. We were playing with a hand of cards where we couldn't lay any down."

Charlestown came out smoking to begin the game, pounding in its first three three-ball attempts.

Isaac Bowles swished a Crawford County three to keep the Wolfpack within six. Then, following a Pirate single, Jordan Newkirk got a pair from the stripe and added his own three-ball. Bowles followed with another single, and Crawford County's deficit was just two.

The Pirates, however, continued to lead through the end of the period and were up five following a deuce by Anthony Lloyd in the paint.

"I thought the beginning of the game was a big thing for them because we didn't think (Lloyd) would hit a three," Brown said. "He's only 25 percent from the three-point line. So, that's a big shot. We gave up a couple of others early trying to keep them out of the lane. Then, we came back and we're right back in the game."

Parker Hudson converted off a Pirate turnover, but Kyle Hayes launched a three to give Charlestown a 22-26 lead. Jacob Thompson and Alex Baker both scored inside to pull Crawford County within two at 24-22. Charlestown's Timothy Hall scored twice inside to Crawford County's lone deuce in the final minute, and the Pirates took a 28-24 lead to the break at halftime.

"Our guys were used to teams making runs on us, so we did a great job of getting back in it," Brown said. "The score at halftime was right where we wanted it."

Kendall Thompson fired in two deuces for the Pirates to begin the second half, but Bowles followed with a three-ball to keep the Wolfpack within five. Charlestown got two, but Crawford County answered again, this time with seven straight points to finish the period in a 34-all tie.

Crawford County missed its first four shots for the fourth period and didn't score until the 2:44 mark when Bowles got a basket inside. During the dry spell, the Pirates put in five points to take a 39-34 lead.

After Bowles' deuce, Charlestown scored seven more unanswered points to lead 46-36. Baker got a three to pull Crawford County within seven with 22 seconds left, but Crawford County could get no closer as the Pirates advance to the sectional final with the 10-point win.

"We got stuck on 34," Brown said. "We hit the big shot to get it tied and had the momentum, then we had three or four empty possessions where (we) didn't get bad shots. We just couldn't finish them off. When we lost the lead again, they hit a couple of big shots. You have to give them credit for that. They hit a couple of really big shots when they had to have them."

"We missed a few free throws and they hit theirs at the end," he said. "When you have two teams that are fairly evenly matched like that, it's going to come down to two or three plays."

Newkirk led Crawford County with 13 points, and Bowles followed with 12. The Wolfpack hit 13 of 38 field goals (34 percent) and 7 of 12 free throws. Crawford County committed six turnovers.

"Isaac hit some big shots and some big shots at the right time of the game," Brown said. "Teams are going to try to take your best shooter away. They did a great job and switched out everything on Alex. We threw the ball to the right places, and they switched out and we didn't get anything out of it. That was big."

"Jordan had 13 points, and it's the hardest 13 points he's ever got," he said. "He got no easy looks at all. With the exception of Jacob Thompson's layup down there on the inbounds play, we got nothing free inside."

Hall led Charlestown with 11 points, and Steven Coynes finished with 10. The Pirates connected on 15 of 29 field-goal attempts (52 percent) and 13 of 18 free throws. Charlestown finished with 10 turnovers.

"If we got up one, I think the game would have changed," Brown said. "We could have set back a little more and not extended out and made them come to us much like we did against Salem (in the first round) when we got the lead. But we never could get it. We never could get over the hump."

Crawford County will graduate five seniors but will have a solid nucleus of experienced players coming back next season.

"All of them played a role, some different than others," Brown said of his seniors. "All of them came to work every day and put their hard hat on. It's been a progression, and it's been a lot slower than any of us want. This is the first year we've won a conference in 10 years. This is the most wins we've had in the last four years. We're creeping up the ladder, but we're just not getting there as fast as we want to."

"Our JV won 15 games," Brown said. "We got some kids some experience this year. … We don't have any excuses or regrets. We were just going to put it out there, and, if it's good enough to win, we'll win it, and, if not, somebody good will beat us, and somebody good did beat us."

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