Does quicker beat bigger? Not Monday night, in the WIAA Division 5 Regional Boys Basketball Championship held in Hazel Green featuring Southwestern and North Crawford.
The Trojans were definitely quicker and the Wildcats were most decidedly bigger. Southwestern would eventually win the game 56-43.
“It was a good game and much closer than the final score would indicate,” North Crawford coach Gary Hines said after the game. In fact, the Trojans led at halftime 23-21 and the score was tied 39-39 with four minutes remaining in the game.
Hines felt if a North Crawford three-pointer would’ve struck home right about then, it might have been a different ball game. That didn’t happen though.
What did happen is Southwestern took charge of the game expanding the lead to 44-39, while frustrating North Crawford’s offense by going to a box-and-one zone that put a player on senior guard Grant Dull effectively denying him the ball.
“They were saying someone else has to beat us,” Hines said of the box-and-one that put a player in Dull’s “back pocket.”
“They identified Dull as our main cog and that fluttered us a bit,” Hines said.
The result was the Trojans were forced to foul the Wildcats in the last few minutes to get the ball back and Southwestern responded with a fine performance at the free throw line going 9-10 in the fourth quarter. The final nails in the coffin were provided by some uncontested breakaway lay-ups Southwestern got as North Crawford tried desperately to recover rebounds.
“I couldn’t be more proud of those guys,” Hines said later. “We were outsized at every position.”
Hines noted the Trojans had the Wildcats on the ropes, but didn’t shoot well enough to them away. He attributed the poor shooting to the Southwestern defense and the hour-and-a-half bus ride to Hazel Green.
“My hat’s off to them,” Hines said. “They’re a big team and a good team and they deserve to go on.”
North Crawford’s junior forward Joe Childs led his team in scoring with 14 points He also had four rebounds and six steals.
Senior guard Grant Dull scored 12 points and had four steals and six assists. Junior guard Joe Bedessem came off the bench to score nine points on three three-pointers. Sophomore forward Tyler Olson scored five points while senior guard Zach McCann scored two points and sophomore forward Cody Hershberger scored one point.
“If that game was played at our place, it might have been different,” Hines said. “That’s the difference between being the two seed (Southwestern) and the three seed (North Crawford). They’re a different team on the road and we’re different team at home.”
Hines said that despite losing some seniors to graduation, the returning sophomores and juniors would form the nucleus of a strong team next year.
“We’ll be right in the mix again next year,” Hines said.