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The Crawford County Wolfpack celebrated a share of the Patoka Lake Athletic Conference championship Friday night after winning their final game of the regular season over conference-rival Paoli, 65-38. It is the second consecutive year that the Wolfpack have been on top of the PLAC, finishing 6-0 a year ago to claim the title outright. This year’s 5-1 record tied them with Perry Central and Orleans. Crawford County, 18-3 overall, will face the winner of Paoli vs. Henryville Friday at 6 p.m. in the Class 2A Sectional 46 at Paoli. Photos by Wade Bell

Crawford tops Rams for PLAC title share

February 29, 2012
The Crawford County Wolfpack completed one of their goals for the year Friday night, when they disposed of visiting Paoli, 65-38, to earn a share of the Patoka Lake Athletic Conference championship. The Wolfpack jumped on the Rams from the beginning and never let go.

"We had some good motivation tonight because we wanted to have a share of that conference," said Crawford County coach Mike Brown, who also was honored before the game for earning his 400th career win earlier in the season against Northeast Dubois. (Brown used to coach at Paoli.) "It was senior night, so we had a lot of reasons to try to play well. We got off to a good start which helped. Every guy we put in the game did a nice job."

Crawford County’s Eric Harned focuses on getting the ball to the basket while being pressured by Paoli’s Aaron Key (20) and Tanner Wroblewski.
Crawford County exploded over the Rams in the first period for a 15-4 lead, eight of those points coming in the paint and six more coming on a pair of Jordan Nickelson three-balls. One advantage going for the Wolfpack was a deeper bench, which Brown has used all season.

"As a coach, that's what you want, to put guys in and not lose anything," he said. "I thought Chase Broughton's defense tonight was as good as he's played all year. That really had an effect on the game. It's nice when you can put different guys in there and get the same result. That makes a big difference in your team."

Paoli made a run to start the second period by outscoring Crawford County 8-2, closing the gap to just five, 17-12. Halfway through the period, however, the Wolfpack launched an offense with an 11-2 run, taking a 33-14 lead at halftime.

Brown said the problem in the early part of the period was his team taking short jumpers instead of pushing the ball all the way to the basket.

"We took some 10-footers that we didn't use the backboard on, and those are hard shots to hit when no one's guarding you," the Crawford County coach said. "In the lane on the run, you don't use the backboard and you don't finish at the rim. That was the first thing we talked about at halftime. We drew a square in the lane and told them don't take anymore shots from here."

Crawford County began the third period by outscoring Paoli 8-2 for a 41-18 advantage. Isaac Bowles went downtown with heavy artillery as he put in three three-pointers, ballooning the Crawford County lead to 52-23. That canyon proved too deep for the Rams to climb, and the Wolfpack went on for the 65-38 win.

"We've just developed our team to the point now that I think anybody can lead us and that's good," Brown said. "You've got to have that. You don't know if a guy is going to get in foul trouble or a guy is going to have an off-night shooting. If you've got other people who can step up and make things happen, it just makes you so much better."

Eric Harned and Nickelson led Crawford County with 15 points each. Johnnie Schwartz finished with 12 points, and Bowles had 11. Crawford County connected on 23 of 49 field-goal attempts (47 percent) and 10 of 13 free throws. The Wolfpack had 11 turnovers.

"The best thing we can really say is we were up 20 in the third quarter and Isaac had one basket," Brown said. "He hit his three's after we were already up 20. That, for us, is big. … I think it was Dalton Nichols' best game of the season for a lot of reasons. It was Chase Broughton's best game of the season. Johnnie Schwartz played well and just right down the line."

Aaron Key led Paoli with 10 points. The Rams hit 14 of 34 field-goal attempts (41 percent) and 9 of 13 free throws. Paoli turned the ball over 15 times.

Crawford County will now get ready for Friday's bye round of the Class 2A Sectional 46 at Paoli, where the Wolfpack will play the winner of the Paoli-Henryville first-round game.

"We can rest a little bit now and watch Tuesday," Brown said. "I think you get yourself ready Monday and Tuesday. … On Wednesday and Thursday, you take the team that wins, and we've got folders back there on everybody and, as they get eliminated, we get rid of the folders.

"We're also starting this weekend thinking of other schools. I'll take Paoli home, (assistant coach) Christopher (Broughton) will take Henryville home. The next two nights (assistants) Ernie (Stroud) and Kevin (Jones) will take some home, and we'll all put our stuff together no matter who wins. I think that's how you have to approach it, because, as you know, in the sectional anything can happen."

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