CROWN POINT — They say "close" only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, but Crown Point coach Clint Swan would like you to consider basketball, as well.

Six of his Bulldogs' seven losses this season have been by seven points or less following Times No. 1 Merrillville's wild, wild 43-41 Duneland Athletic Conference win Friday night.

That's got to be a positive, right?

"That was our mantra in the locker room afterward," Swan said. "We're getting better. We really fought hard and competed.

"I know our record isn't sexy, but I love this group. They're so good to coach. I run to the gym."

Crown Point (4-7, 0-1) outscored the Pirates (9-4, 2-0) in three of the four quarters despite 20 turnovers, including nine in a two-point opening period.

And yet, the game could've gone to overtime had Sam Decker's putback of his blocked shot with 1.5 seconds to go not been disallowed. Instead, a jump ball was called, though late, and Merrillville got the alternate possession.

"We shoot 16 of 47 from the field, 10 of 15 from the line, and we come away with a Duneland Conference win against a Crown Point team whose record is deceiving. Clint does a very good job," said Merrillville coach T.J. Lux.

"We're not interested in style points."