Payback: Colonel Crawford avenges earlier Wynford loss with 12-point win at home
NORTH ROBINSON — Colonel Crawford coach David Sheldon didn't have to say much to his Eagles ahead of Saturday's rivalry game against Wynford.
"January 24, 2023," he said. "A week and a half ago we had to watch them storm the floor and celebrate."
Just 12 days earlier the Royals came out on top in an overtime thriller for their first win over the Eagles in seven years and first at home in just shy of a dozen. But back in front of the home crowd, Colonel Crawford made sure it wouldn't be a sweep with an impressive 57-45 win.
"Our guys stepped up," Sheldon said. "You have five seniors out there, three have played in a regional final before, and I thought tonight was player led. Good teams are player led, and that's what these guys did. There was some toughness, loose balls and that kind of stuff. That's what you have to win.
"That's a very good basketball team. It's one of the best I've played in a long time. They have skill all over the floor, and they're going to be very good next year."
And right from the start Wynford's talent was on display as the Royals jumped out to a 5-0 lead, then pushed a 5-4 advantage to 11-4 and 18-10 at the end of one quarter.
"We got punched in the mouth right out of the gate and had to use some timeouts," Sheldon said. "Our motto is 'one possession at a time' — you can't win a game in a possession or lose one. We strung stops together and got some scores, then all of a sudden go into halftime up three."
A 16-5 second quarter by Colonel Crawford turned a seven-point deficit into a 26-23 lead at the half. And from there momentum completely swung in favor of the Eagles, who starting knocking down shots and clamped down on defense to hold Wynford without a bucket until the 3:36 mark of the third and the Royals totaled just 10 points in the second and third quarters combined.
The teams began trading baskets in a high-paced, high-scoring fourth quarter, but Wynford never cut it to fewer than seven.
"We did not come out in the third quarter like we usually do," Wynford coach Mike Smith said. "This isn't an excuse, they played better than we did tonight, but we've been battling illness. I didn't have Sam (McMillan) last night and on Tuesday is when he started to get sick.
"We didn't consistently hit shots. In the third quarter we came out and had some good looks the first few times down the floor and could've cut the lead right away. They hit foul shots at the end and they didn't last game, that sealed it. We cut it to seven with 30 seconds left — we did that against Upper and came back — but this is a whole different beast here."
Derek Horsley and Braxton Baker made huge plays down the stretch for the Eagles, forcing turnovers to thwart any hopes of a Wynford comeback.
"Defensively we were very good. They were in the 30s until the very end, and that's a team averaging in the high 50s," Sheldon said. "We had a tough week last week. This team has faced adversity throughout the year and once again they responded with a good double league win against two very good teams."
It was one of Horsley's best performances in an Eagles uniform with 15 points, five rebounds and three steals, and was a lockdown defender, limiting one of Wynford's most dangerous threats, Cainen Allen, to just 10.
"Derek was (also) really good last week at Wynford. He's really coming into his own," Sheldon said. "He's turning into another great point guard in Colonel Crawford history. He's running the show, getting the ball where it needs to go, scoring in different ways without forcing it. He's the coach on the floor and gets what I want. He has had a great stretch after waiting his turn for that position. He played really well tonight.
"Defensively he was really good because Allen went off for 23 (Friday night) and he holds him to 10. I challenged (Horsley) to keep him out of the paint because he's shifty and can shoot it. Derek had great takes and hit big shots for us all night."
Baker led all scorers with 17 and seven rebounds, Jacob Maddy had 11 points and 10 rebounds, and Trevor Vogt and Ethan Holt added seven points apiece.
"Their bench players and role players played better than I thought they would," Smith said. "(Baker) had 13 until he hit free throws at the end. In two games I think he scored 25 against us. We were face guarding him to start so he didn't get a lot of open looks."
Wynford made sure Baker had a difficult night finding open space, but that just allowed Horsley, Holt and Vogt the opportunity to shine.
And Colonel Crawford did its best to take away Wynford's Grant McGuire, who hit the game-winner 12 days ago. He wound up leading the Royals with 13 points, including 11 in the second half and nine in the fourth quarter alone.
"I think they guarded him closer and when we ball screened they tried to help and hedge," Smith said. "They didn't let him get in open space. In the third quarter we got a lot of open looks, and maybe we came out too fast. They clamped down in normal Colonel Crawford defense and didn't let us get many good looks after that."
McGuire led with 13 points, Allen added 10 and Ashton Warren had six. McMillan contributed six points and 10 rebounds, Dylon Robinson had four and Austin Bindner three.
"We're on a three-game slide right now, so we have to figure out how to right the ship and do it quickly," Smith said. "We have Seneca East next weekend, so at least we have four days to prepare. I don't care for these back-to-back league games. I think it's too much for these kids and it's a lot for us coaches to try to prepare. Especially this week, I had Mohawk and Crawford — that's hard to prepare for."
And with the postseason looming, Smith is hoping his team gets back to 100% sooner than later.
"Wes (Prenger) goes to the doctor and we're hoping," Smith said. "He's shooting now with the brace on and staying active. Hopefully by Friday we'll finally be back to full strength. That was the seventh game without him ... it's a good time to get him back maybe with four games before tournament starts.
"Hopefully we see the old Royals next week."
This article originally appeared on Bucyrus Telegraph-Forum: Colonel Crawford boys beat rival Wynford by a 12 in rematch