One point. That’s all that separated the Crawfordsville Athenians from their ultimate goal Saturday night. After claiming the Montgomery County, Sugar Creek Classic and Sagamore Athletic Conference championships this season, the Athenians were looking to add another notch to their belt by claiming the Class 3A Boys Basketball Sectional 25 championship.
However, it wasn’t meant to be, as the Greencastle Tiger Cubs came away with the hard fought, 52-51 overtime win to advance to next Saturday’s regional.
“I told the guys that I thought we played really well. They’re a really good team, they’re 21-4 for a reason,” said Athenian head coach David Pierce. “Our margin of error was so small. We fell down and they buried a three. That’s how good both teams were.”
The two teams battled toe-to-toe in the first as a Jesse Johnson-Hall three at the first quarter buzzer tied the game at 11. Crawfordsville turned up their defense in the second outscoring Greencastle 12-7 to lead 23-18 at the half. The Athenians limited the Tiger Cubs to just five shots in the quarter while turning them over six times.
Crawfordsville stretched their lead to nine with 5:01 remaining the third when they were whistled for a technical foul. Greencastle connected on both free throws and scored on their ensuing possession to cut the lead to five. They’d trail just by two at the end of the quarter, 35-33.
The Tiger Cubs continued their run into the fourth as they led 46-39 with 2:36 remaining. Just when it appeared they were going to run away with the victory, the Athenians came storming back thanks to the Tigers Cubs missing three front ends of one-and-ones.
“We called a timeout and the seniors dug deep,” Pierce said. “There was some frustration and panic, but the seniors got us focused. We executed and got us back into the game.”
Anthony Gonzalez buried a three from the top of the key, and Tray Scorza got a steal and basket and a rebound basket to tie it up with 0:42 ticks remaining. It would remain tied at 46 as we headed to overtime.
The Athenians scored the first three points of overtime as Johnson-Hall connected on 3-of-4 free throws. However, the Tiger Cubs outscored them 6-2 the rest of the way.
Crawfordsville had the ball with 0:04.6 remaining, but a running three pointer bounced off the rim, and the putback rolled off the back, to give the Tiger Cubs their first sectional since 2004.
Greencastle, shot 61 percent from the field, including 69 percent in the second half, were led by Benton Parmley’s 15-points. Brody Whitaker chipped in 14 and Cade Plew 10. They outrebounded the Athenians 25-22. They’ll host Beech Grove in game one next Saturday.
Crawfordsville (18-7) was led by Scorza’s 17 while Johnson-Hall chipped in 15.
Saturday marked the final game for Crawfordsville seniors Jake Decker, Eddie Heinold, Will Kellerman and Cam Saunders.
“It’s really hard because of how good the seniors are,” Pierce said of the foursome. They’re hurting because they don’t get to wear a jersey anymore. That’s what makes you realize they got something out of it.
“This game was a definition of that class. They worked hard and they executed,” he continued. “We had success this season, because they held guys accountable and that’s when everything clicked.”

TIGER CUBS 11 7 15 13 6—52
ATHENIANS 11 12 12 11 5—51

Player FG-A FT-A R F PTS
PARMLEY 5-5 2-2 2 2 15
WHITAKER 5-7 3-4 5 4 14
PLEW 5-6 0-1 8 2 10
BOLLMAN 3-7 1-3 4 2 7
SUTHERLIN 2-8 1-2 4 2 6
Totals 20-33 7-12 23 12 52
Percentages: FG .606, FT .583. 3-Pointer: 5-11 (Parmley 3-3, Whitaker 1-2, Sutherlin 1-5, Bollman 0-1 Team Rebounds: 2.

Player FG-A FT-A R F PTS
SCORZA 6-8 4-4 1 2 17
JOHNSON-HALL 5-10 3-4 8 1 15
KELLERMAN 2-6 0-0 1 2 5
WILLIAMSON 2-8 0-0 1 1 4
SAUNDERS 0-0 1-4 4 4 1
GONZALEZ 4-9 0-0 3 4 9
Totals 19-41 8-12 18 14 51
Percentages: FG .463, FT .750. 3-Pointer: 5-14 (Johnson-Hall 2-4, Scorza 1-2, Kellerman 1-2 Gonzalez 1-4, Williamson 0-4) Team Rebounds: 4.