Crothersville gave up the first eight points of each half of Friday’s boys basketball game at Austin.
So from both points, the Tigers had to claw from behind.
Once the host Eagles took a 26-15 lead at 6:19 of the second quarter, they maintained a double-digit lead the rest of the way in defeating Crothersville 78-52.
So what lacked for the Tigers at the start of both halves?
“A little bit of mental focus,” Crothersville coach Greg Kilgore said. “(The Eagles) were a little more prepared than we were, and that’s something we’ve struggled with all year coming out. It’s like once we get in the flow and once we realize, ‘Golly, these guys are pretty good,’ then we’re OK, then we’ll take off and play a little bit.”
After darting out to an 8-0 lead in the first quarter, Austin later went on a 7-0 spurt and led 20-8 through eight minutes of play.
Both teams were running and gunning in the second quarter. Micah Mains led the Tigers with eight points, and four of his teammates scored. Dakota Staschke had six of the Eagles’ points, and he also had scoring help from four teammates.
Austin managed a 40-26 edge at halftime.
Then to start the second half, Markus Fleenor scored five points during Austin’s 8-0 run. His third 3-pointer with 37 seconds to go gave him 15 points in the third quarter, and Austin took a 61-34 lead into the final quarter.
Crothersville outscored the host team 18-17 in the fourth quarter, but the closest the Tigers came was 71-51 at 2:41 when Clayton Byrd banked in a 3-pointer.
Besides having sour starts to both halves, Kilgore said his team also lost because of giving up offensive rebounds.
As the Tigers head into Tuesday’s sectional game against West Washington, Kilgore said those things can’t happen.
“Boxing out and defensive rebounding, that’s not a talent or a skill. That’s just want-to, and we’ve got to get better,” he said. “We’ll be in the same boat with West Washington in the sectional. They’ve got a couple big kids, and we’ll have to box out and keep them off the boards. They don’t have the physical skill that some of the Austin kids do, but it doesn’t take a lot of physical skill to pull (the ball) off and put it back in.”
Mains and Dakota Mount each scored 15 points to lead the Tigers (6-17), and Mount pulled down a team-high six rebounds.
For the Eagles (7-15), the seniors shined on senior night. Fleenor led the way with 19 points, Brady Patton was 4 of 6 from 3-point range for 12 points, Staschke contributed 11 points and Josh Davidson added five.
Also, junior Kenton Embrey was a workhorse on the boards with a game-high 10 rebounds to go along with nine points.
This was the second meeting between the teams. Austin took the sweep after winning the season-opener 74-33.
“We’re never satisfied with a loss, but we’ve improved some,” Kilgore said. “The thing is, improving from now until next November when we come back down here again. It’s getting to where you can match their intensity for four quarters instead of the second and fourth or the first and third. We’ve got to put four quarters together to win against anybody.”