BY MIKE RILEY
It’s still early in the season. Teams are still trying to find their niche, that chemistry, that combination that will lead to a successful season.
Let’s say for the time being, neither Silver Creek or Charlestown have found it. But for the Pirates, lessons learned resulted in a win on Tuesday as they watched a lead slip away before cashing in at crunch time for a 57-50 win over the visiting Dragons.
“We definitely had to find a way tonight,” said Charlestown coach Sean Smith afterward. “There were a couple of times where we got up eight or so that I thought we should have built on it. But we had some mental lapses that let them back in it. They have some young talent and they took advantage of it.
“We have got to learn that killer instinct and we have to learn to win. Anytime you can get a win the way we did tonight is a positive.”
After Silver Creek pulled to within 14-13 early in the second quarter, Charlestown (3-1, 2-1 Mid-Southern Conference) ran off seven straight points for a 21-13 lead. But the Dragons (1-4, 0-3) were able to pull to within 21-20 before the Pirates scored the last seven points of the half for a 28-20 halftime lead.
Behind the play of Shae Durham, who sat the first half, Silver Creek wasted no time in taking control of the game, taking the lead at the 3:57 mark on a basket by Gabe Bauer. The Dragons eventually built the lead to 38-34 before a late 3-ball by the Pirates’ Justin Conrad made it a one- point game entering the fourth quarter.
Where it was Durham, whose nine third-quarter points got the Dragons back in the game, Chris Braun answered the bell for the Pirates in the final period. Braun, a starter who sat the first quarter had six points, hit all three of his field-goal attempts. As a team, the Pirates hit seven out of eight shots from the floor in the period, the only miss being a trey by Conrad who hit two more following the miss.
It was still anyone’s game as Bauer hit two free throws to pull Silver Creek to within 52-50 with 1:40 left. Drew Reich then got loose for a layup, his only basket of the game for Charlestown. After both teams then exchanged turnovers, the Pirates’ Aaron Daniel hit 2-of-2 at the line before Reich added 1-of-2 for the final margin.
“I had to bench Chris for the first quarter and he didn’t respond well to it,” said Smith. “But it was great there at the end to see him and Aaron and Justin, three of our seniors, to step up and show the leadership they did. We didn’t have all of the guys together during the summer and with the success of the football team we had a late start. This was big.”
Daniel led Charlestown with a game-high 15 points and was the only Pirate in double figures as all nine Pirates that saw action scored. Braun also led Charlestown with a game-high nine rebounds as the Pirates held a 37-27 advantage on the boards.
Bauer led Silver Creek with 14 points. Durham added 11.
“We had big problems tonight with free throws and rebounding,” said Silver Creek coach Brandon Hoffman. “As a team, we have a slim margin of error and tonight we were too inconsistent from one possession to the next. That’s a combination of youth and experience and being just five games into the season.
“We’ve lost three straight games and I feel we could have won them had we been mentally tougher.”
Both teams will return to action on Friday as Charlestown hosts Providence, while Silver Creek entertains Jeffersonville.
“[Pioneers’] Coach [Lou] Lefevre is one of the best in this area and we have a great deal of respect for the Providence team,” Smith said.
“We welcome the opportunities to play the Jeffersonville’s and New Albany’s,” Hoffman said. “But if we do some of the things we did tonight, we’ll get embarrassed.”