January 18, 2017
When the Crawford County and Orleans boys' basketball teams get together, you can usually expect an aggressive, tight game between the two Patoka Lake Athletic Conference schools. That's the way it went through the first half Friday night. In the second half, however, the Wolfpack mauled the Bulldogs to improve their Patoka Lake Athletic Conference record to 4-0 with two teams left to play.
Crawford County's Matt Dearborn tries to get this shot off over Orleans' Luke Tincher in the first half. The Wolfpack rolled to a 55-33 win. Photo By Wade Bell
"They're doing a better job," Crawford County coach Levi Carmichael said. "Our seniors are doing a better job. Even though they're not overly vocal, they're setting the tone by their play and the expectations at practice. They're doing a good job, as a collective unit, where last year we had so many different seniors that did something different, this group's doing it together."
For Orleans coach Tom Bradley, it was a matter of Crawford County wanting it more and a lot of disappointment.
"To cut to the chase, they just played so much harder than we did," he said. "They pursued the basketball off the glass. We couldn't guard them at all. We didn't cut hard enough to get open looks. I was just really disappointed. I thought they played a lot harder than we did, and we were fortunate we only got beat (by) 22. I was really disappointed."
The first quarter was as expected with baskets going back and forth with Orleans taking the backdoor road to a 7-4 early lead. Brent Smith, however, then drilled his first three-ball to start a Crawford County run for a 13-7 lead after one quarter.
Matt Dearborn continued that run into the second period by scoring in the paint. Dylan Johnson took the backdoor route for a deuce-and-one, closing the gap to five. Smith drilled two more Crawford County 3-pointers to open up the Wolfpack lead to double-digits.
Johnson responded again in the paint, then Duncan Gerkin drilled a 3-pointer, closing the Orleans deficit to six, 21-15. Adam Beasley found daylight in the lane for two, but Johnson countered with a three. Dearborn got the last points of the half, and the Wolfpack took a 25-18 lead to the locker room at halftime.
"Even though they were running (the backdoor), I thought Gerkin had to work hard on his backdoors and really had to use a lot of energy," Carmichael said. "There were just a couple of moments we got kind of broken down. But the thing that really hurt us the first half was our screen defense. There were a couple of times Gerkin got open because our helper didn't help off the screen. So, we talked about that at halftime and were able to adjust a little bit."
"We have a lot of different things that we run, and our openings tonight were on the baseline at times," Bradley said. "We did score some points there."
Crawford County came out of the break with an offensive explosion, and Orleans hit an iceberg. The Wolfpack scored the first 15 points of the second half, giving Crawford County a 40-18 lead.
Orleans missed its first seven shots and didn't score until more than five minutes into the period, with Cooper Stalker sinking a three. Those were the only points the Bulldogs would get in the period as Crawford County finished the quarter with five straight from Josh Thomas for a 45-21 lead with eight minutes to go.
"At halftime we just said, 'Hey, we've got to come out and get a stop, get a score and a stop and try to get this thing in double digits,' " Carmichael said. "We know how good Orleans is. They're never out of it. They're never gone. You never feel like a lead is safe with them."
"That third quarter we played about six minutes of the eight and hadn't even scored yet," Bradley said. "It was 15-0 at one time, so it was a 20-3 run, and that just kind of took the wind out of our sails."
Orleans won the fourth quarter by two but never saw its deficit get under 20 points, with the Wolfpack getting the 55-33 win.
"A lot of time in the first half, we get in a habit of just worrying about our guys," Carmichael said. "That's human nature a little. But you've always got to worry about the ball, your man, where you're at in position all the time. I think we were more in focus, 'Hey, we've got to be in the right position instead of worrying about our guy.' I think that kind of helped us clog them up a little bit, too."
"It's very disappointing, and we've got to find a way to find it within ourselves to be tougher," Bradley said. "Crawford County was so much tougher than we were tonight it was just pathetic for us. We haven't found the right buttons to push yet for this group, and it comes down to it's just a challenge on themselves."
Thomas led the Wolfpack with 13 points, and Smith's four 3-pointers gave him 12 points for the game. Dearborn added 10 points for Crawford County, who hit 22 of 47 field-goal attempts (47 percent) and 6 of 8 free throws. Crawford County had just four turnovers for the game.
"Josh did a phenomenal job getting his hands on a lot of basketballs," Carmichael said. "Josh doesn't always get the rebound, but it's just his activity a lot of times will lead to somebody else getting the rebound. … Having Matt again to help and get him back in the lineup, and then Cameron (Marples), Cameron came in and when he played he was phenomenal."
Johnson led the Bulldogs with 14 points, while Gerkin was held to just six. Orleans connected on 12 of 34 field-goal attempts (35 percent) and 2 of 6 free throws. The Bulldogs committed 12 turnovers.
Bradley said the loss was a big setback for his team.
"We challenged our kids after the game," he said. "We played fairly well against Salem, then we came out tonight and we had no energy and it looked like we had no focus, and we've done that before. We'll play one good game, then we'll come back the next night and we'll just look like we did tonight."
"Johnson and Gerkin was their two main guys at halftime, and they had got some good shots," Carmichael said. "I knew we had made Gerkin work a little bit to get his. That's what we were trying to do. If he's going to score let's make him work really hard for it, because he is a phenomenal player. Ty and Gavin took the challenge in guarding Gerkin and really did a good job chasing him all night."
The win keeps Crawford's PLAC record unblemished with West Washington and Paoli left on the conference schedule.
"We knew tonight was another big night," the Crawford County coach said. "We're not going to look ahead too much obviously, but always one of our goals is conference, PSC and sectional. So, we're keeping this one alive. As long as we keep getting better, everything will play out."
Orleans 7 11 3 12 - 33
Crawford County 13 12 20 10 - 55
Orleans - Gerkin 6, Stalker 8, Johnson 14, Ray 3, Pate 2
Crawford County - Carlton 2, Smith 12, Coleman 4, Sturgeon 2, Marples 4, Beasley 8, Dearborn 10, Thomas 13
3-pointers - Gerkin 2, Stalker 2, Johnson 3, Smith 4