January 09, 2013After escaping host Heritage Hills in the opening round of the PSC Holiday Classic on Dec. 27, Crawford County had to meet South Spencer, who edged Boonville on a last-second shot. That second-round game against the Rebels would prove to be the Wolfpack's first loss of the season, as they fell 51-41.
"Last night, we didn't attack the basket enough until it was too late," Crawford County coach Mike Brown said on day three of the tournament, which paired the Wolfpack against Tell City in the consolation game. "We got behind last night, and we just kind of had the look on our faces like, 'We'll be all right.' … South Spencer played a really nice game. They had one kid that hit seven threes, just unconscious.
"We normally don't let that happen. He had six in the first half, and (we) only gave him one the second half, but, by then, the damage was done. We didn't play very well, but they were responsible for that."
Crawford County’s Brandon Cate shoots over two Tell City defenders for two of his 10 points in the Wolfpack’s 63-45 third-place win over the Marksmen in the PSC Holiday Classic. Photo by Wade Bell
Crawford County, however, regrouped for its consolation round. After shaking the rust off in the first half, the Wolfpack overpowered Tell City in the third quarter to go on to a 63-45 win.
"You don't want to go 0-3 here, and you don't want to go 1-2," Brown said. "So, I guess 2-1 is a little better than that. We learned some things this week about our team and some kids individually. We did not have a game of the three where we shot the ball well."
The two teams battled through four lead changes in the first period, with the Marksmen holding an 11-10 edge after the first eight minutes.
Tell City extended its lead to 16-12 early in the second period after Trent Zuelly sank a three. The Marksmen stayed on top until Brandon Cate and Zach Thomas put in five points to give Crawford County a 22-20 edge.
Jordan Newkirk added a pair of free throws, but Matthew Watts buried a pair of long three-balls to push the Marksmen back in front. Johnny Schwartz and Nickelson canned deuces, but Casey May got one of those back at the stripe, and Crawford County held a 28-27 edge at halftime.
"Tonight, we did a little better job of getting it in there, not only to Johnny, but to other people where they could do something with it," Brown said. "That was kind of the difference. Plus, we played our trap a little more tonight. We wanted to save our legs the first quarter just because I thought we were pretty tired at the end of the game last night. When we got to the second quarter, we started trapping, and we picked it up a little bit."
Crawford County turned up the blow torch in the third quarter as Tell City hit just one of eight field-goal attempts, four of those misses coming from behind the arc.
The Wolfpack scored the first eight points of the period to lead 36-27. Watts finally got a deuce to fall for the Marksmen, and Zuelly later sank a pair from behind the stripe.
Crawford County, however, finished the period with a pair of three-pointers from Brayden Barron and Ranger Caffrey to lead 45-31.
Tell City got as close as nine, 54-45, midway through the fourth period when Watts sank his fifth three of the game and Brennan Malone scored inside. From there, however, it was all Crawford County, as the Wolfpack scored the final 10 points for the 63-45 win.
Brown said he wanted his players to make use of every opportunity they had to bounce back from their loss the previous night.
"Just not waiting and taking opportunities when they were there," Brown said. "More than anything getting into the lane and making things happen. Last night, we were really tentative and threw the ball around the outside way too much. Took too many threes. We felt like we had an advantage inside, but we didn't take advantage of it last night."
Nickelson led Crawford County with 20 points, hitting 10 of 12 free throws. Caffrey came off the bench for 13 points, and Cate finished with 10. The Wolfpack hit 20 of 47 shots from the field (43 percent) but just 19 of 33 free throws. Crawford County had 12 turnovers.
Brown said his team still needs to shoot better from the charity stripe.
"We were 19 of 33 from the free-throw line tonight, and we could have nailed it down at the line," he said. "When we called it out at the locker room, it seemed like every kid said, 'I missed one,' 'I missed two,' 'I missed three,' 'I missed two.' It was everybody. Jordan was 10 of 12."
Watts led Tell City with 19 points. The Marksmen connected on 15 of 39 field-goal attempts (38 percent) and nine of 13 free throws. Tell City had 22 turnovers.
Brown said Watts caught him and his staff off guard.
"We hadn't seen him play much," Brown said. "We knew (Brian Arnold) would, but we weren't really sure (Watts) would. He hit some nice shots. We're not used to post guys stepping out and hitting those, especially on a day's notice. But give them credit. I thought they did a nice job of finding him a lot. We did a better job late in the game of getting a hand up on him, but, when he was loose, he hit them."
Brown said the main thing his team needs to do is tweak the little things.
"We're not far from being a decent team," he said. "Little things are hurting us right now that we can correct in practice. Our effort is good. Our mentality has got to be a little better about situations of the game and where to look and who's open based on what teams are playing against us.
"Just little things, and I think everybody would probably tell you that after this week. You've got little, bitty things on offense and defense and special teams that you've got to correct as you go forward."