The Craig County boys’ basketball team will wrap up the regular season this week needing a win or two to grab the fourth seed in the coming Pioneer Tournament.
Craig comes into the week with a 3-7 Pioneer record and two games left, at Covington Monday and at Highland tonight, Wednesday. Bath County is also 3-7 and has split two games with Craig. The Chargers play 8-2 Parry McCluer and 1-10 Eastern Montgomery this week.
Highland is 3-8 and the Rams have one game left, against the Rockets tonight in Monterey. Highland beat Craig the first time around, in New Castle, by two points, 62-60, and the Rockets felt like they should have won that game. They’ll need to turn that score around tonight to have a shot at fourth place in the district.
“We still have control of our seeding but need to be ready to go this week, as it is a make or break week for us,” said Craig coach Ryan Frazier.
The district tournament begins next Monday, February 13, and if the Rockets can grab the fourth seed they’ll host the fifth seed in the opening round. The second and third seeds also get home games while top-seeded Narrows, who has yet to lose a Pioneer game, gets a first round bye. Covington and Parry McCluer were battling for the second seed coming into the week while East Mont will be the seventh seed with just one district win to date.
The district semifinals are February 16 at the higher seeds, and the championship is February 17 at the higher seed. There is also a third-place consolation game that night.
The Rockets dropped to 3-15 overall when they lost three home games last week, beginning with a 64-38 loss to Giles on January 30. Matthew Lucas had 20 points, Hayden Reynolds had eight and Zach Peters scored six. Craig fell behind by 16 at the half and never recovered.
On Friday first place Narrows came to New Castle and took a 74-48 win over the Rockets.
“We came out timid against Narrows and didn’t make them work for anything,” said Frazier. “We had a goal this time to make sure that they knew they were in a game and that we would fight hard until the end, even if the final score didn’t show it. Narrows has one of the better players in the area in Kolier Pruett and we knew we would have trouble slowing him down and we did as he scored 37 points.”
While Craig lost by 26, the score doesn’t show the whole story. The Rockets led by three after the first quarter and trailed by just three at the half before Narrows pulled away after intermission.
“Our boys played hard and with passion and I am very proud of that display against the best team in the district,” said Frazier.
Lucas finished with 26 points and eight rebounds while Peters had three points and 10 assists and played a really good first half, getting the ball where it needed to go. Reynolds finished with eight points, Talon Ritter had five and Drew Duncan scored four.
On Saturday afternoon the Rockets played host to Montcalm in a non-district game and lost 59-49. The game was tied after one quarter before Montcalm opened an eight point lead at the half.
“This was another game the boys showed a lot of heart, being down by as many as 20 before cutting lead to seven in the fourth quarter,” said Frazier.
Lucas had 27 points while Reynolds had 14, 12 of which came on four three-pointers. Peters had five points and six assists while Jaycob Wolfe came up with nine rebounds despite dealing with some sickness.
Prior to the game Craig honored the team’s two seniors, Peters and Austin Hickson.