Tiger Cubs drop opener to Athenians
CRAWFORDSVILLE -- Crawfordsville coach John Blackwell must have thought it was Halloween and not the Thanksgiving holiday season to kick off the 2008 high school basketball season.
The first-year Athenian coach had a trick up his sleeve with the emergence of sophomore guard Trent Crabtree in the starting lineup Wednesday in Crawfordsville's 51-39 win over Greencastle.
Crabtree -- a transfer from Fishers High School near Indianapolis -- fired in 36 points and connected on five long-range three-pointers to kick start the Athenians to a 1-0 start with the win over the Tiger Cubs.
"He is a great athlete and a good player that understands the game," Blackwell said. "We just told him to let the game come to him. I know he got 36, I will go back and watch the film, but I am pretty sure that he let the game come to him.
"I thought his decision making, the team's decision making, was good."
Crabtree had Blackwell as a junior varsity coach last season and happened to make the move to Crawfordsville with his coach because his family decided -- due to financial reasons -- to move to the area so they can be closer to Purdue University, where Crabtree's older brother and sister attend.
Crabtree knocked down his first five three-point attempts and shot 13-of-17 from the field in the win.
"I got the open shots only because my teammates were driving and kicking the ball out," he said. "It just all fell into place.
"It's been good," he said of the transition of playing with new teammates. "The seniors took me in and showed me respect. I just want to fit in with them. I want to blend in and I hope the team plays well."
Crabtree made his presence felt early -- hitting a three to start the game and scoring the first 10 points for the Athenians as they rallied from a 7-5 deficit in the first quarter to lead 21-8 at the end of the stanza.
"He's a good player," said Greencastle coach Troy Greenlee. "We knew some things about their personnel, but we didn't know about him because he is a new kid. We heard he was good. He got us in a hole that we couldn't dig out of."
Crabtree wasn't the only player that was on fire. Tyler Whittington had eight points -- six in the first half -- and the Athenians shot 50 percent from the floor as they built a 36-15 halftime lead. In all, just four players scored in the win
"I know that I told you guys before the season that I thought that we would be pretty balanced. So much for that tonight," Blackwell joked. "But really, I think we do (have balance). We had some guys not play as well as they can.
"We still have things that we can do well."
Greencastle had a 24-15 advantage in the second half and was able to close the gap to 10 with 3:10 remaining -- shooting 10-for-20 from the floor in the second half -- but Crabtree scored the final nine points for Crawfordsville to seal the contest.
"We didn't compete hard enough in the first half," Greenlee said. "We were better in the second half. We can't allow a team to out-work and out-hustle you. That is our No. 1 priority right now since that is what happened tonight.
"We got down early and had to battle back the whole game. I wasn't pleased the way we came out and we played better in the second half. But they played real well and Crabtree did it for them in the first half."
Kyle Nobles led the Tiger Cubs in scoring with nine while Nick Hutcheson had seven with 10 rebounds and two blocks.
Brett McKinney led the Athenians with seven rebounds as they outrebounded the Tiger Cubs 36-29.
Greencastle is back in action next Friday night when it hosts the Putnam County Classic.