Their play on the glass proved the difference in the Crothersville boys basketball team’s season-opener Monday.
At the end of the game, Austin had outrebounded the Tigers 40-18 — with a tremendous 22 offensive boards.
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Despite a strong first-half effort, the Tigers fell to the Eagles 74-51.
“Our offensive rebounding was atrocious,” Tigers coach Greg Kilgore said. “We gave up 22 offensive boards and we had 18 total rebounds. We will continue to lose games all year if we continue to have those rebounding numbers.”
In the first quarter, the Tigers jumped to a 6-0 lead by the 4:33 mark behind two baskets from senior Eli Mollett and a field goal by Tyler Luedeman.
Tied at 9-9, Luedeman stole the ball at half court and converted an and-one opportunity to give the Tigers a 12-9 advantage.
After eight minutes of play, the Tigers led 15-13.
Austin re-took the lead at 6:17 when junior Trevor McIntosh sank a pair of free throws.
McIntosh dominated the period, scoring eight of his 12 points from the free-throw line.
The Eagles would draw seven fouls in the second quarter, and took a 34-27 lead into intermission.
Back-to-back baskets by Collyn Claywell and Mains narrowed the Tigers’ deficit to 37-33 with 4:54 in the third quarter.
However, Austin went on a 11-0 run in three minutes to distance themselves at 47-37 and the Tigers would only manage six more points in the quarter.
After 24 minutes, Crothersville trailed 51-37.
The Eagles busted the lead open in the fourth and never looked back as they stood firm on their home court.
Mains and Mollett each had 13 points for the Tigers while Luedeman chipped-in eight.
Despite the strong effort, Mains and Mollett would foul out in the fourth quarter and Luedeman left prematurely with a concussion.
“They are going to provide leadership all year,” he said. “I think that was part of the reason why we struggled the second half. Micah and Eli were in foul trouble and Tyler left with a concussion. We then had to bring in freshman and sophomores: which they did a great job in the junior varsity game, but the varsity is a whole different ball game, but it’s good experience for them.”
McIntosh finished with 25 points and eight rebounds to lead the Eagles.
“We wanted to keep McIntosh out of the lane, but he still ended up with 25 points,” Kilgore said. “He is just a really strong, athletic kid. We knew that their press would give us a little trouble, but I thought we handled it decently in the first half.”
Despite the final result, Kilgore said he was pleased with his team’s effort.
“Both teams played hard and with tenacity,” Kilgore said. “I couldn’t question the effort tonight. If we play like that the rest of the season we will win some games this year.
“The thing is we need to use that effort in the rebounding. It kind of confuses me with this bunch: they will dive for loose balls and take charges but they won’t box-out and rebound. Those are all effort plays.”
The Tigers (0-1) will travel to Orleans on Saturday.