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Late surge lifts Crawford past Silver Creek


December 21, 2011
A late fourth-quarter surge pushed Crawford County past host Silver Creek, 61-55, Tuesday night, Dec. 13. The win kept the Wolfpack's record spotless at 5-0, something coach Mike Brown didn't expect.

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Crawford County’s Jordan Nickelson takes the inside road against Silver Creek’s Jacob Brooks in the second half of the Wolfpack’s 61-55 win. Photo by Wade Bell
"Going to Forest Park and winning the first game of the season on the road was big," Brown said. "The only thing that really helped us besides the win was confidence. … Automatically, you feel like you've accomplished something. I think that took a lot of our inexperience kind of out of things. We knew we could go on the road and beat somebody good. That's what we talked about in our three road games."

The first part of the game went back and forth and up and down the court with both teams tied after one quarter at 15.

The second period began the same way until Johnny Schwartz scored inside and Josh Totten buried a three to give Crawford County a 26-20 lead.

Zach Ricketts and Jacob Brooks got back-to-back deuces inside for the Dragons to close the gap to two, but Eric Harned, who was in a zone in the first half, scored inside, and Crawford County went to the halftime locker room with a 28-24 edge.

Harned was key to the Wolfpack in the half, scoring 11 points, but Brown said he didn't get to rest the junior as much as he would have liked.

"I think a lot of it is we play him too much," Brown said. "He's really the only guy that we don't have an immediate sub for in most games. We've got subs for guards and we've got post guys that can come in, but it's hard for us to cover his spot, except for Nickelson, and Nickelson is out there a lot. Those guys play a lot of minutes, and a lot of times when you see they begin to let guys go by them and miss shots, we've left them in there too long."

Silver Creek scored the first six points of the second half to lead 30-28. The Dragons used second-chance points to lead 36-30, forcing Brown to tell his team it would go home empty-handed if it didn't do a better job of rebounding.

"We're going to lose this game because we've got nobody to step in," he yelled to his players.

"I think from that point on in the middle of the third quarter we got most of the rebounds the rest of the way," he said later. "There's certain things you can be sure of on the road and that is, if you don't out-rebound your opponent, you're probably not going to win."

Crawford County then outscored the Dragons, 10-2, to take a 40-28 advantage, but that lasted only briefly as Grant Meyer drilled a three to put Silver Creek back up by one, 41-40, at the end of the third period.

The Wolfpack immediately came back in the fourth with a 9-2 burst to lead 49-43. From there, Crawford County went into ball-control mode and extended its lead to 60-51 with less than a minute remaining.

The Dragons got a pair of buckets with seconds left, but it wasn't enough as the Wolfpack held on for the 61-55 win.

"We had a lapse right there early in the third quarter where we got caught standing around, and against them, if you get caught standing around for three minutes, they'll get the boards on you," Brown said. "It doesn't take long to score. From that point on, I thought we did a pretty good job. I thought we handled their pressure real well late when we had the lead."

Harned led Crawford County with 18 points, and Schwartz followed with 10. The Wolfpack connected on 21 of 47 field-goal attempts (45 percent) but just 13 of 25 free throws. Crawford County had just eight turnovers for the 32 minutes.

"Obviously, we've got to shoot free throws better," said the Crawford County coach. "I don't feel as bad about that as I normally would because we weren't up there clanking them. Every one of theirs were pretty easy shots that bounced off, but we've got to hit them better than we did tonight. We missed 10, and eight of them were in the fourth quarter."

Meyer led Silver Creek with 22 points, and Brooks dumped in 17. Silver Creek put up 51 shots, hitting 19 (37 percent). The Dragons were 11 of 16 from the charity stripe and had 11 turnovers.

"I think that, when you have two teams that are quick, you have a lot of things you normally get by with," Brown said. "There's somebody there in front of you, a lot of times when you get open shots underneath, and now you're playing a game where there's a lot of quick leapers on the floor. You hesitate, you worry and you miss shots. Both teams missed shots they normally hit and will need to hit to win."

"We want to go on the road and be aggressive and let the chips fall where they may," he said. "Once you've done that a couple of times, then you begin to feel like you can beat anybody now. We'll get tested with that again, no doubt. We've got some tough road games and some tough home ones, too."

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Barbara Shaw
Schuler Bauer
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