FRISCO — After spending the start of his sophomore season on junior varsity, Lewisville’s Rakai Crawford got a chance to contribute at the varsity level on Monday for the Farmers. In no way could he have anticipated what would become of that opportunity.
Crawford came off the bench to score a team-high 22 points, including the game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer, to lift Lewisville to a 68-67 victory over Trinity Christian-Cedar Hill as part of the Dallas Mavericks Fall Classic, held at Independence High School.
“I was just like, ‘Wow, I really hit a game-winner,’” Crawford said. “Whenever I was going hot and there was a minute left, I was thinking to myself that I could probably game this if I got the chance.”
That Crawford had that mentality was no surprise, given how dialed in the 5-foot-10 guard was from long range all morning. Of his seven made field goals, six came from beyond the arc on white-hot efficiency shooting the ball.
And when the Farmers trailed Trinity 67-65 with 19 seconds to play in the fourth quarter, first-year head coach Toby Martin was plenty content with his recent junior varsity call-up getting the last shot for Lewisville.
“It was exactly the plan,” Martin said. “We wanted to get our shooters clean, have a chance to get middle penetration and have a backside shooter open. … I was comfortable with either (junior) Tre’Lin (Green) or Rakai shooting the ball. Rakai shot the ball so well today, I was comfortable with both being in that position.”
Fittingly enough, those were the exact two players involved in the Farmers’ game-winning sequence. With Crawford stationed in the corner after passing out to Green, Lewisville’s point guard called for a high screen just past midcourt from sophomore Colby Springs. Green drove left, drew the Trinity defense in on a step-back and pump faked before dishing the ball to an unguarded Crawford, who calmly fired away from the corner for a triple as time expired before being mobbed by his teammates in celebration.
“It’s such a great feeling. This whole year, I haven’t really done anything to that level yet, but now I know I can,” Crawford said.
“[Crawford] was a kid who played JV on Friday,” Martin said. “He was a kid who teetered back and forth and we wanted to see more of a defensive commitment from him, and with the injuries that we’ve had lately, we pulled him up for today. He’s been a borderline varsity kid — offensively, he’s as gifted as anyone on the team, but we wanted to see him lock down and defend, and he was able in our zone concepts to be a worthy defender.”
Crawford, who wasn’t initially inserted into the game until late in the second quarter, brought an instant spark to a Lewisville team whose offense stagnated at times in the first half. He knocked down his first two 3-pointers, including one with 10 seconds left in the second quarter for a 25-22 lead at the break.
His scoring punch was needed plenty in the second half as well, as the Farmers had to soldier through the final two quarters Monday without star junior Adrian Banks. Last year’s newcomer of the year in District 6-6A, Banks was hit in the eye in the first half on Monday — relegated to the bench nursing an ice pack for the remainder of the ballgame.
Banks exited the contest with nine points, seven coming in the second quarter as Lewisville dug out of a 13-6 hole through one frame. In his place, Green and Crawford took the reins of the Farmers’ offense. Crawford played off Green’s dribble penetration — Green added 19 points and dished out seven assists in the win — as Lewisville appeared to be taking control of the game in the second half, building as much as a 12-point lead at 50-38 with 7:45 left in the fourth quarter.
But Trinity turned up the pressure defensively, sending myriad double teams and traps at the Farmers, while riding an aggressive outside shooting performance to claw back into the ballgame.
“It puts a lot of pressure on our guards, especially when you’re the primary ball-handlers,” Martin said. “Tre’Lin is our No. 1 scoring option with Will Curtis out, and you could see he was dog tired at the end of the game.
“Just finding another consistent ball-handler, Rakai can do that. The switch we made the last couple of possessions was getting another guard in there so he can break it down. We weren’t really trying to score so much off that pressure so much as it was just valuing possessions.”
The Tigers blitzed Lewisville with a 23-10 run and led by as many as three points inside the final minute at 65-62. Green gave the Farmers life after sinking a deep 3-pointer with 40 seconds remaining.
“That wasn’t necessarily what we drew up, but [Green] is a mustang,” Martin said. “Sometimes you’ve got let them go and be wild a little bit, and he’ll learn. They’re all still acclimating to what we’re trying to do.”
Trinity was paced by 23 points from Todd Burch Jr., who scored eight points in the fourth quarter. Following Green’s tying triple, Trinity drew a foul and Isaiah Torregrossa put the Tigers back in front on a pair of free throws with 19 seconds remaining, 67-65. Green and Crawford took care of the rest.