Crawford AThletics

Crawford County Jr-Sr High School

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Crawford AThletics

Crawford County Jr-Sr High School

Crawford AThletics

Crawford County Jr-Sr High School

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4 years ago by Jerry Hanger

Wolfpack Wins Sectional

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Crawford County senior Adam Beasley (30) fires up the winning shot to give the Wolfpack a 33-32 win over Class 2A top-ranked Providence in the Crawford County Sectional. Photos By Wade Bell
 

Beasley drops bombshell on No. 1

 

Class 2A Crawford County Sectional Final

 
 
 
 
March 08, 2017
When the Crawford County boys' basketball team went into its sectional championship game against Providence on Saturday night, it was given little chance of surviving. The Pioneers were ranked No. 1 in the state in Class 2A. They had a record of 22-3, having beaten teams by an average of 14.5 points. They had beaten Crawford County during the regular season and were the heavy favorites to defeat the sectional hosts again.
 
 
 
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The Crawford County Wolfpack celebrate with the winners' trophy Saturday night after they upset sectional favorite Providence.
"Nobody in the world thinks we're ever going to compete with them," Crawford County coach Levi Carmichael said the night before after his team ousted Clarksville in the semi-final. "That's fine and people can believe what they want. I think our boys have been looking forward to this rematch a little bit. We're going to go lay it out. We're not going to back down."

They did more than not back down. The Wolfpack rallied from a 10-point deficit to deliver a knockout blow to the Pioneers, with senior Adam Beasley delivering the artillery round that ousted the Pioneers in a 33-32 win that gave the Wolfpack their first sectional championship since 2002.

"This doesn't even feel real," Beasley said after cutting down his piece of the net. "This is crazy … Fifteen years, it feels good. We were able to bring it home for Crawford. We were able to win it for the fans that come out and support us all the time. I'm just glad we were able to win it for each other. We've been working so hard, and finally being able to win feels good."

"This is the best thing we've ever done," senior Ty Nickelson said with tears in his eyes. "This is the happiest I've ever been with these guys, and I love my teammates … I can't wait to play with them next week. I've been playing with a lot of these (guys) since the fourth or fifth grade. We've been playing together for a long time and we're a family."

The word of the day was 'defense,' and it was obvious from the beginning that the game was going to be dictated by just that. The first quarter began with a swap session between the two teams with Providence holding the edge. Crawford County's Brent Smith and Providence's Eli Coker traded three-balls, then Juston Betz added a deuce and a pair from the charity stripe to put Providence up by six, 11-5, after the first quarter.

Providence missed its first two shots of the second quarter, and Crawford County regained some ground. Gavin Coleman hit a jumper, then Beasley got a deuce-and-one to close the gap to one, 11-10. Coker then drilled three Providence three-balls that gave the Crawford County fans a bad case of nerves as the Pioneers' lead suddenly jumped to 20-10.

"Providence is an unbelievable team at spurts," Carmichael said. "We talked that they're going to get a spurt. We knew it was going to come. It was going to be, 'How are we going to react to that spurt?' Even though Coker made some unbelievable plays and hit those shots, the last two minutes of that first half we just kind of settled down and slowed it down and just kind of calmed the storm a little bit. We kind of licked our wounds at halftime to see what could happen."

Nickelson had an answer to Coker's artillery rounds. The Crawford County senior first sank two free throws to close the gap to eight. Two possessions later, Nickelson took the point on a breakaway and pounded the ball through the hoop, sending the Crawford County side of the gym into a furious frenzy, as the Wolfpack closed the gap to six, 20-14 at halftime.

"We needed the two points, but we needed some energy boost, and I thought that helped a little bit, too," Nickelson said of the dunk. "We were in a situation that we had been in before. We just had to do what we kept doing, don't vary from the game plan, just stick to what works, and that's what we did. We came out on top, and that's all that matters."

"We just knew we had to do it one possession at a time and get one stop at a time and just grind it out," Beasley said. "We knew there wasn't a 20-point shot that could get us up. We just had to do it one possession at a time."

The Pioneer offense went cold in the third quarter, and Crawford County saw the door begin to open. Providence connected on just one of its seven field-goal attempts for three points in the eight minutes of play. The Wolfpack, meanwhile, hit four of their seven shots and began the quarter with a 6-0 run to tie the game at 20. Collen Elbert sank a 3-pointer for the Pioneers in response. Crawford County answered again with another 6-0 burst and had a 26-23 lead with one quarter to go in the game.

"When we went into halftime, it was very similar to that first game (during the regular season)," Carmichael said. "We were down seven, 20-13, and we were down 20-14 tonight. We just talked about, if we could get a little stretch here where we get within two or three, we might make them nervous. We might make them a little tight."
 
 
 
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Crawford County's Matt Dearborn, left, looks to the basket against Providence's Eli Coker (10).
Nickelson drilled a 3-pointer early in the fourth period and Beasley converted a deuce off a missed Providence shot for Crawford County's biggest lead of the game, 31-23, with Wolfpack fans beginning to see victory on the horizon. Providence, however, had another run in it, as Elbert and Betz fired in shots from behind the arc.

Moments later, Betz drilled another 3-pointer and Providence was back in front by one, 32-31. On its next possession, Crawford County lost the ball out of bounds, and Carmichael called timeout to settle his team.

"I think we kind of realized the moment a little bit too much," Carmichael said. "We started looking forward a little bit and said, 'Hey, we're ahead now.' We said, 'Well, it's not over just yet.' But Providence is a heck of a team. They're an unbelievable team. They just take so many things away, and they did in that little stretch, and our kids got a little tentative."

Providence spread its offense and Crawford County quickly began to use up fouls to force a mistake. The Pioneers finally got into a bonus situation but missed the front end of a one-and-one, with the Wolfpack grabbing the rebound, moving the ball near center-court and quickly calling a timeout with 14.6 seconds left to set up a final play.

Beasley took the inbounds pass behind the center line and brought the ball into the half-court to the right side. He then threw to Dearborn deep inside, and Dearborn quickly kicked the ball out to Nickelson. Nickelson then threw back to Beasley, who let go of the ball with 4.3 seconds left from 10 feet. The ball found nothing but net, and Crawford County had a 33-32 lead.

"We were setting it up to get it inside for, like, Matt or Josh (Thomas), and, then, they kicked it back out to me," Beasley said. "I just drove it in and shot it. I saw the lane and I just drove and shot it, and it went in. It just felt so good."

"We ran one of our favorite go-to plays for Brent Smith to try to get him a look," Carmichael said. "We were hoping they would jump out at him, which they did a little bit, but they guarded it really well. We wanted our big to slip and he wasn't there, and we told Adam, 'Keep your dribble and, if none of those are there, you've got to go make a play.' What a heck of a play he made, obviously."

"Adam, when he's going, he's really good about that pull-up jumper," he said. "That's really his go-to shot when he wants to make it. He can really lift and elevate. He's a guy we knew was going to be for a moment like this. It was just getting him to believe in himself that he was going to be ready for this moment. He really was when it counted."

The game, however, wasn't finished as Providence quickly called timeout. Officials put 2.7 seconds back on the clock, giving the Pioneers time for one last play.

"We just knew we had to make a stop and stay on the main there," Beasley said. "We knew we couldn't let them throw it long for an easy layup or anything. We were told, if they screened or anything, to switch it. Luckily, they didn't get a good shot off. They air-balled it, and we won."

Alex Judd took the ball out for the Pioneers, and the Crawford County defense kept him from going long. Judd found Betz, who dribbled to about 60 feet from the basket and let it fly. The ball went right of the basket, with the Wolfpack getting the win and the Crawford County student section storming the court for the school's first sectional championship in 15 years.

"We talked about yesterday, our kids don't have much to lose," Carmichael said. "We don't have any pressure. We thought we could maybe get them a little tight, but I really think defensively we just locked down. We tried to figure a way to hold them to one shot most of the night. I'd love to take credit, but the players made the plays. I didn't make a single shot."

"We stuck together," Nickelson said. "We didn't try to separate. We kept playing as a team and kept playing defense. We dug it out one possession at a time. We just grounded away."

Nickelson led Crawford County's scoring with 12 points. The Wolfpack hit 10 of 28 field-goal attempts (36 percent) and 7 of 8 free throws. Crawford County finished with just eight turnovers. Carmichael said if there were an MVP award it would go to Nickelson.

"People ask me, 'What's the difference between pre-Christmas to now?' I think one guy you look at is Ty Nickelson," he said. "Not from anything he does other than effort, enthusiasm, aware with all, desire, whatever you want to characterize; all that stuff as a coach you can't define, he's done it. That's carried over to the other kids and, if you look for an MVP, it's not going to show up in the stats, but most of our guys would tell you he's probably the reason why we're here where we're at."

Coker led the Pioneers with 14 points, including 12 on four 3-pointers. Providence put in 11 of 34 field-goal attempts (32 percent) and 2 of 3 free throws. The Pioneers had just four turnovers for the 32 minutes.

Carmichael now will get his team ready for Saturday's Paoli Regional, with Crawford County playing in the second game, at noon, against Forest Park, who edged the Wolfpack by two points in the opening game of the season.

"I'm not worried about our guys," he said. "It's a great thing for our community who's been yearning for it for a while now. I'm not worried about our kids. We've got upperclassmen. I want them to enjoy this moment and remember it for the rest of their lives. Enjoy it tomorrow, then get some rest. Then, Monday morning, most of them understand they're going to be back and I hope, and they will, (are) going to want more. I think the door is open to try to do that."

Providence 11 9 3 9 - 32

Crawford County 5 9 12 7 - 33

Providence - Betz 7, Ebert 9, Coker 14, Judd 2

Crawford County - Smith 3, Coleman 2, Beasley 7, Nickelson 12, Dearborn 6, Thomas 3

3-pointers - Betz, Ebert 3, Coker 4, Smith, Nickelson
 
 

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