A growth spurt that made Carter Crowe 10 inches taller didn’t have an adverse effect on his perimeter touch on a basketball court.
Whiteland’s tallest boys player this season at 6-foot-5, Crowe, a junior who stood 5-7 at the end of his eighth-grade year, continues to be most comfortable behind the 3-point stripe.
“I’ve always been a shooter, and I’m starting to figure out the inside game a little bit,” Crowe said. “This season has been a lot of fun.
“Right now, we’re just focusing on one game at a time.”
The Warriors began their season losing the first five games. It was the first time in 18 years the boys basketball program had gotten off to such a shaky start as the 1999-2000 squad opened with seven straight losses.
However, the first three of those games were decided by a total of nine points, so the Warriors knew they had what it took to turn the corner. Whiteland regrouped, won four straight and is now 9-10 entering its home date with Martinsville on Friday.
Crowe is averaging 14.8 points in the past five games.
It’s a significant step up for Crowe after primarily helping the Warriors’ junior varsity as a sophomore. Coming off the bench as the third or fourth varsity reserve, Crowe averaged 1.8 points a contest.
“Although some people may be surprised (with Crowe’s current 12.1 scoring average), for the coaches it wasn’t,” Whiteland coach Matt Wadsworth said. “Carter worked very hard in the weight room and on the court in terms of individual skill development in the offseason.
“He does everything with a sense of purpose, and will do anything we need for us to win.”
The development of brothers Cole and Chase Ferguson along the interior enables Crowe to do what he does best, which is shoot the ball from the outside. Nonetheless, he still manages to do work in the paint, as evidenced by his team-best five rebounds per contest.
Wadsworth said one of the things Crowe has done best this season is adapt to the newfound defensive attention he receives. Once a distant option when Whiteland needed points, Crowe — along with junior forward Brennan Neal and senior guard Riley Higdon — has established himself as a go-to player.
“Last year, I was about the eighth man. The first five games as a sophomore, I was 100 percent varsity. But coach put me on JV so that he didn’t feel like he had to put me in the varsity games,” Crowe said.
“I had a lot of fun. It was a lot of work with (graduated) Mike (Valle) and Aaron (Gross). At first it was intimidating.”
Crowe is shooting 40 percent from 3-point range this season, making two or more treys in 13 of Whiteland’s 19 games. He’s also a 78 percent shooter from the foul line who converted all 14 of his attempts in a January win against Indian Creek.
The junior feels he might not be done growing. His game certainly isn’t.
A statistical comparison between Carter Crowe’s sophomore and junior seasons for the Whiteland boys basketball program: