Lady Pack fall to Eastern, 46-38
By Wade Bell, Sports Writer
The Crawford County Lady Pack went into their season opener Friday night at Heritage Hills with no practice in two weeks after the school had been shut down because of exposure to COVID-19. That first game against the Lady Patriots did not go well with Crawford County suffering a 50-23 loss.
The next night the Lady Pack had their first home game against visiting Eastern Pekin, last year’s sectional champion, again with no real practice time. The Lady Pack shook off enough rust from the night before to give the Lady Musketeers all they could handle. Crawford County lost by an eight-point difference but made significant improvements in the right direction.
“I’m really proud of the kids and their effort,” Crawford County coach Chris Broughton said after Saturday night’s game. “We haven’t practiced in two weeks. We played a really good Heritage Hills team last night that might be one of the best teams we play all year, and they just blitzed us at the start. It was just kind of to be expected. You can shoot as many shots in your driveway as you want to, but it’s nothing like being in a game being guarded and that kind of thing. So, I’m just really proud of the kids’ effort tonight.”
It first appeared the Lady Musketeers were going to throw another blitz at the Lady Pack, who hit just one of 10 shots in the first period, that one coming from Treasure Nickelson at the end of the quarter. Eastern took an 11-0 lead to start the game, then Sarah Stutzman got Crawford County’s first two points from the charity stripe. Crawford County’s defense gained a little more strength through the remainder of the period, and Eastern scored just two more points. The Lady Musketeers led 13-4 after the first eight minutes.
“We got down 11-0 and could have folded,” Broughton said. “It could have been easy to do that, but I’m just really proud of the way that they fought and made a game out of it.”
Eastern missed its first three shots of the second quarter and turned the ball over once, but Crawford County was unable to convert. Lily Crumpton finally connected for Eastern, but Taylor Herbaugh drilled a three for the Lady Pack. That started an 8-0 Crawford County run as Nickelson converted off of two Eastern turnovers to cut the gap to three. Kyia McKinley scored twice for the Lady Musketeers and a 19-12 edge.
Following a free throw by Eastern’s Shelby Casey, Herbaugh and Autumn Schigur scored in the paint and Schigur added a freebie to once again close the gap to three.
Ava Sowder scored the final points of the half, and the Lady Musketeers took a 22-17 lead to the locker room at halftime.
Crawford County was just 6 of 22 from the field the first half, while Eastern put in 9 of 17 shots. Both teams struggled with turnovers, Eastern with 10 and Crawford County with nine.
“We’re not shooting the ball well right now,” Broughton admitted. “We’re not expected to be shooting the ball well right now, but it can’t break your confidence. I told them last night after the game at Heritage Hills we can be a really good team if you let the coaching staff be basketball coaches. Or, it’s going to be a long year if we have to be counselors all year because we’re lacking confidence. We have to continually coach you individually and build you up, not that we don’t do that, but when we can put you in a position to be successful, and you have confidence in yourself, I feel like we have a really good team.”
The third quarter was mostly a trading session with neither team gaining any ground. Crawford County put up 10 shots and hit two, while the Lady Musketeers put up seven shots and hit two. The Lady Pack were holding their own, down just six, 30-24, following two Herbaugh free throws with one quarter left.
Eastern gained a little traction in the fourth quarter and ran its lead to nine, 35-26, when Crumpton scored in the paint. Herbaugh countered with a three-ball, then Nickelson later converted inside to close the gap to four. Moments later, Sowder drilled a three. Nickelson answerd with a deuce, but then McKenna Jeter and Crumpton scored the next four to push Eastern’s lead back to nine. From there, the clock became Crawford County’s enemy with the Lady Musketeers going on to get a 46-38 win.
“I knew the more we played games the better they would play and the more confidence we would get,” said the Crawford County coach. “We didn’t get a scrimmage game. This weekend was the first taste of real action that we’ve gotten, so their confidence improved. That’s going to be the thing for this team all year long, what’s going to happen with our confidence.”
Nickelson led the Lady Pack with 20 points on the night, and Herbaugh connected for 12 points. Crawford County was 12 of 43 in field-goal shooting (28%) and hit 12 of 16 free throws. The Lady Pack finished with 15 turnovers.
“We have a whole new team and kids that have never played together,” said Broughton. “We have kids that have never played varsity basketball. Those are things that you work out in summer basketball, and we didn’t get summer basketball. Those are things you work out at the beginning of the season in practice. So, considering the fact that this is new for everybody, I’m really encouraged after what I saw tonight.”
Crumpton led the Lady Musketeers with 12 on the night. Eastern was 50% from the field hitting 16 of 32 field goals and cashed in 11 of 17 free throws. The Lady Musketeers also had 15 turnovers.
“The girls, for the most part, did a pretty good job of executing the game plan,” Broughton said. “We didn’t back down. I know it got a little chippy there a few times, but we’re never going to be dirty or anything like that. But, we don’t want our kids to back down either. I thought we did a good job of that, too.”
“There’s so many things we’re going to improve upon, things that we haven’t been able to practice, game situation and execution,” he said. “We only played on defense. We were able to press a little bit,and some of the pressing stuff was our conditioning. We’re not in shape right now. So, I was encouraged at how the kids came out and fought and played.”
Eastern Pekin 13 9 8 16 – 46
Crawford County 4 13 7 14 – 38
Eastern Pekin – Crumpton 12, Sowder 8, Sill 7, Patton 6, Casey 5, Jeter 4, Ky. McKinley 4.
Crawford County – Nickelson 20, Herbaugh 12, Schigur 4, Stutzman 2.
3-pointers – Eastern 5 (Sill 3, Sowder 2); Crawford County 2 (Herbaugh 2).