The Providence Pioneers nearly erased a 19-point fourth-quarter deficit but fell short at the Robert I. Larkin Center on Senior Night last night, losing to Class 2A No. 8 Crawford County, 52-44.
“It wasn’t a close game,” Providence coach Lou Lefevre said. “Coming into this season, we were kind of in the same boat with them — we both lost a lot of scoring, and they just looked like a team whose players had raised their level of play, and they hustle and fly and manuever. They’re just a nice team to watch and they just outplayed us.”
The Pioneers opened the scoring when 6-foot-5 guard Grant Goad hit a short jumper to give his squad a 2-0 lead seconds into the contest. After senior forward Daniel Schuler hit two free throws with 4:47 remaining in the first quarter to tie the game at 6-6.
Suddenly Providence went cold, going nearly six minutes without scoring while the 17-3 Wolfpack mounted a 14-6 lead.
During that dry spell, Providence went 0 of 7 from the field before Schuler hit a layup off a feed from Goad to make the score 14-8 Providence with 6:09 remaining in the half.
“They run their offense flawlessly and with precision,” Lefevre said. “They know where they want to be and they execute. That’s what a good offense is. We don’t look like that now. Defensively, we just looked like we were chasing them.”
Crawford County notched the final two baskets of the first half on short jumpers from guards Jacob Mauck and Brandon Cate to gain a 24-12 lead at intermission. Heading into halftime, the Wolfpack were an efficient 4 of 7 from beyond the 3-point line while the Pioneers missed all six of their 3-point attempts.
It was 42-23 early in the fourth quarter after forward Wolfpack forward Zach Thomas scored in close. Providence answered with a 10-0 run that brought it back into contention after Grant Goad sank 1 of 2 free throws to narrow the deficit to 42-33 with 4:32 remaining.
The Pioneers forced three turnovers on inbounds plays during a 90-second span, and with less than a minute to play, freshman guard Juston Betz nailed a 3-pointer for the Pioneers that brought the hosts to within 3 at 47-44.
During the Providence run, Crawford County missed six consecutive free throws, but inside the final minute, guard Brandon Cate, who finished with 17 points, sank 4 of 4 free throws to seal the deal for the Wolfpack, who impressed Lefevre.
“I think at this point, what I saw tonight from us doesn’t give me much confidence that we can beat them, if we can get past Paoli [in Tuesday’s Paoli Sectional opener],” he said. “Right now, we don’t look like a team that can win a sectional. I don’t know if we can turn it around and make a miraculous turnaround between now and next week but we’ll see.”
Ranger Caffey matched Cate with 17 points to pace the Wolfpack, who face Class 2A No. 2 Clarksville in the first round at Paoli.
Goad had 12 points and eight rebounds for the 12-6 Pioneers, who conclude the regular season Friday night at New Washington.
CRAWFORD COUNTY 52, PROVIDENCE 44
Crawford Co. 11 13 16 12—52
Providence 6 6 11 19—44
Crawford County (17-3): Caffrey 17, Cate 17, Mauck 7, Thomas 3, McMonigle 8, Nickelson 0.
Providence (12-6): Goad 12, Betz 6, Shahroudi 2, Koerner 8, Hayes 5, Mitchell 3, Hayden 0, Watson 0, Schuler 6, Judd 2.
3-point field goals: Crawford County 6 (Caffrey 3, Cate 2, Mauck); Providence 3 (Betz 2, Mitchell).
Rebounds: Crawford County 21 (McMonigle 6); Providence 25 (Goad 8).
Free throws: Crawford County 10-19, Providence 13-17.
Turnovers: Crawford County 9, Providence 13.