Trinity Lutheran-Crothersville meet in sectional opener


Bobby Riley says the team that can control tempo in tonight’s Crothersville-Trinity Lutheran game will be the one that advances to the second round of the Class A West Washington Sectional.

After West Washington (10-11) and Shawe Memorial (1-18) open the tournament at 6 p.m. and have gone to their locker rooms and Senator and Hilltopper fans have cleared the gym, the Tigers and Cougars will have 10 minutes to get used to the atmosphere of the sunken gym.

Riley, coach of the Tigers, said in the past, teams had a chance to practice on the sectional floor, but with COVID-19, they didn’t have that opportunity this year, so they are being allowed an extra 10 minutes prior to the games.

The Crothersville and Trinity fans will then be allowed into the gym, and the teams will have their normal 20 minutes to warm up and then play. The game is expected to start about 8 p.m.

Trinity brings a record of 9-13 into the game, while Crothersville is 4-18. Trinity was 3-1 against other sectional opponents, while the Tigers were 3-3.

The teams played at Crothersville on Jan. 29, and Trinity went home with a 64-47 win.

Hudson Norton and Tyler Goecker scored 15 each, Jack Marksberry 13 and Mitchell Hackman 10 to pace Trinity’s balanced attack, while Cable Spall had 24 for the Tigers.

“We were ahead of them (26-24) at the half. At the end of the third quarter, we were down (44-39), and in the fourth quarter, we allowed them to speed up the game,” Riley said. “We gave up some open 3s.”

Trinity coach Ryan Crase agreed his team was able to take control of the earlier game when it was able to speed up the game in the second half.

“In the second half, we really spread the ball out and pushed it on them much better than we did in the first half, and it really opened the game up for us, so we’re going to try and do the same thing,” Crase said. “We’re going to try and make it an up-tempo game and make sure we’re not easy to guard and move the ball.”

Trinity will try to play fast.

“Tempo is crucial for us,” Crase said. “I told my guys if they have a two-on-one or three-on-one to go for it. If not, pull it back out and go for good shots on offense. It’s going to come down to the pace of the game and rebounds. We’ve struggled with rebounds all year. We’ve got to keep them off the offensive boards. They shoot a lot of 3s, which creates more rebounds, which makes it more difficult for us.”

The Cougars, who were missing Marksberry and Hackman the first month of the season, started out 1-9 and have gone 8-4 since Jan. 9.

“I think we’re peaking at the right time,” Crase said. “We’re moving the ball the right way. We just need to keep doing what we’re doing, playing good, hard defense, keep talking and move the ball on offense. We are always more successful when we have four guys in double digits.”

Goecker leads the team at 19.4, points a game. Norton is averaging 14.7, Marksberry is averaging 14.1 and Hackman 8.7.

Spall leads the Tigers at 22.4 points per game.

“They’ve got a real good guard in (Spall) and a good big guy (Quinten Keasler),” Crase said, “so we’re going to focus in on them and try to take them away and make the other guys beat us.”

Trinity comes in averaging 61.4 points per game and is giving up 62 ppg., while the Tigers are averaging 47.7 and are allowing 61.2.

“Any time we can push it, we’re trying to push it on anybody, and I don’t think that will be any different tonight,” Crase said. “We’re going to try and push the ball and get the tempo up.”

Riley said he wants the Tigers to control the pace.

“If the score is in the 40s and 50s, that will be really good for us,” he said. “If it gets into the 60s, that’s not good for us. I don’t have the same scoring balance that they do.”

Crothersville will open with seniors Spall, Keasler and Domanic Stevens, junior Zach Helt and sophomore Damian Bowman.

Trinity’s starting five will be made up of seniors Marksberry and Goecker, juniors Hackman and Jacob Sabotin and sophomore Norton.

Medora and Edinburgh drew byes and will not start play until Friday night. Edinburgh is the only team in the sectional that has a winning record at 18-5 and will meet the Trinity-Crothersville winner.

Medora (3-18) plays the West Washington-Shawe winner at 6 p.m. Friday.

The championship game is set for 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

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