Crawfordsville – It was all set-up for a back-and-forth, barn-burner finish between the Western Boone Stars and Crawfordsville Athenians in the Sectional 25 semifinals.
But then Western Boone went ice cold. The Athenians went on a 19-2 run spanning the third and fourth quarters, and Western Boone couldn’t recover in a 52-43 loss.
“We struggled a little bit, and missed a couple shots that we had been hitting up until that point,” Western Boone head coach Bronson Lickliter said. “We had some untimely turnovers too, and Tray Scorza did a good job of attacking off the ball screen. He made a couple of buckets in a row that got Crawfordsville going and we couldn’t slow then down.”
But the Stars went scoreless for the next 3:59, turning it over five times and missing two shots.
The Athenians led 36-29 before Pat Shallenberger scored with a 7:29 left to slow the run, but the Athenians scored the next nine points to go up 14 with 3:15 to play.
“We did get rushed a little bit during that stretch,” Lickliter said. “It was one of those things that we were getting rushed, but we weren’t down that much at time and had some unforced turnovers there. We got a bucket there to get within six, and I hoped we could get back in there, but we couldn’t get it going again. We had a gameplan against their trap, but we got away from it a little bit.”
Crawfordsville got up 15-6 late in the first quarter, getting 11 points from center Jess Johnson-Hall.
But Western Boone scored the next eight points to get within one with 6:24 left in the half. The Stars took their first lead at 20-18 on a 3-pointer by Cortez Stoudemire and led by one at the half.
The Stars led by three on two occasions in the third quarter, but then had their drought.
“We got down a little bit, but we showed the resiliency and resolve that we have shown all year long,” Lickliter said. “We battled back to get the lead at the half, just through a little bit of toughness and grit.”
Cortez Stoudemire led the Stars with 11 points and Lucas Morton added 10 for the Stars, who finished the season 12-12.
“They played hard, and that’s what I will remember the most,” Lickliter said. “They were coachable, and they came into a season right after winning a football state championship and were hungry to win. They competed hard in every game.”
Lickliter has been around the game of basketball his entire life.
He said he couldn’t remember a season like this one, where they had to move back four games and barely had enough to practice early in the year.
“It has been the most interesting season I have been a part of in high school basketball,” Lickliter said. “Just from the standpoint where we didn’t have nearly all our guys for the first 17 practices, and to have guys come in and trying to figure it out on the fly going forward.”