|On to BG: Crestview captures district championship 54-39|
|Friday, March 07, 2014 9:00 PM|
BY JOHN PARENT
Times Bulletin Sports Editor
ELIDA — In a season where the Crestview Knights have met every challenge, Friday night’s Division IV district championship game felt more like a formality. Facing a Miller City squad they had handled by 22 points back in December, Crestview came in as heavy favorites.
Though the Wildcats were relentless at both ends, shooting woes plagued Miller City in three of the four periods and Crestview rolled to a 54-39 win. The Knights captured their first district crown since 2003.
After both teams struggled to make field goal early on, the Knights finally began to find the range midway through the second quarter. With the Knights leading only by a 10-7 score, reserve guard Mitchell Rickard stepped up and drilled a 3-pointer from the wing that jump-started an 11-2 run, leaving the Wildcats looking up at a 21-9 deficit.
During the run, senior guard Cam Etzler scored on a floater on the baseline and, after a Connor Lautzenheiser 3-pointer, Etzler got into the lane, absorbed contact and made the shot, adding a free throw to complete a 3-point play.
After Damian Helm drained his second three of the night with 36 seconds left in the half, fellow senior Tyson Bolenbaugh blocked back-to-back Miller City shot attempts, then scored on the opposite end to make it a 26-12 halftime score.
“Both teams were trying to defend like crazy and take things away,” noted Crestview head coach Jeremy Best of the sluggish first-half offense. “I think, at times, it was a little choppy but that’s a tribute to a lot of things. The game was physical; both teams try to take away what you do best.”
Miller City finished the half a brutal 1-for-21 from the floor, their only field goal coming on a Cory Heuerman 12-footer with 6:15 to play in the second quarter.
The second half brought a different Miller City squad, however, as the Wildcats opened the third quarter on a 7-2 spurt, getting all seven points from Adam Niese, to cut Crestview’s lead to nine.
“Credit to them; they couldn’t throw it in the ocean in the first half but I knew they were going to coming out and continue to be the aggressor,” said Best. “(Miller City) is a hard team to guard because they’re relentless. They just keep peppering you and coming at you.”
The Knights fought back and Helm’s triple at 3:16 in the quarter established a 37-21 advantage but Miller City kept battling. A quick 5-0 run made it an 11-point margin but Rickard dialed long distance again and, at least momentarily, put a halt to the Wildcat surge.
A pair of free throws by Niese and a left-wing 3-pointer from Jacob Gerten brought the Wildcats to within nine at 40-31 as the third quarter came to an end and brought the sizeable Wildcat crowd to a deafening volume.
Niese paced the Miller City attack with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Ten of those points came in the third quarter.
A younger team may have been rattled as the fourth quarter opened. A team without the experience of the Knights, without the depth, without the leadership, may have started to tighten up.
Instead, back-to-back 3-pointers, first by Lautzenheiser and then by Helm, gave the Knights some breathing room again, creating a 16-point lead with six-and-a-half minutes to play.
As the period wore on, the relaxed 2-3 zone the Wildcats had been employing was forced to attack. That left the middle of the paint wide open and the Knights moved the ball with precision, creating open layups for Etzler and Bolenbaugh, effectively putting an end to all Miller City hopes.
Bolenbaugh finished with 12 points, 13 rebounds and six blocked shots.
Though the Knights only forced six Miller City turnovers, Crestview held its opponent to 10-for-41 (24.3 percent) from the field and a ghastly 2-for-16 from 3-point range.
Etzler turned in nine points with eight assists in the victory.
The Knights were led by 21 points from Helm, who was 6-for-11 from the field including 4-for-7 from downtown. Helm and Bolenbaugh, both standing at least 6-4, gave the shorter Wildcats difficulty all night.
Helm and Bolenbaugh were a combined 7-for-7 from the free throw line.
“They had a great crowd, they were in to it, our crowd was awesome. It was a fun game to play,” Best added. “I knew that we were going to have to play 32 minutes and our guys knew that, too. We’ve been here (to districts) three years in a row, but this is the first time we got out.”
“It’s been a while, so we’re pleased.”
Crestview finished 19-for-44 (43.1 percent) from the field and 8-for-18 (44.4 percent) from beyond the arc. The Knights outrebounded the Wildcats 34-25, including a 10-9 edge on the offensive glass. Both teams were outstanding from the line, with Crestview hitting 8-of-9 and Miller City making 17-of-20.
Crestview advances to the Bowling Green regional and will play Toledo Ottawa Hills on Tuesday evening. Tipoff is set for approximately 8 p.m.
Score by quarters
Miller City 5 7 19 8- 39
Crestview 8 18 14 14- 54
Miller City (39)
A. Niese 16, Drummelsmith 8, Heuerman 6, Gerten 5, J. Lammers 4, M. Lammers 0, Z. Kuhlman 0, T. Niese 0, K. Kuhlman 0.
Helm 21, Bolenbaugh 12, Etzler 9, Co. Lautzenheiser 6, Rickard 6, Zaleski 0, Simerman 0, Jones 0, Rolsten 0, Mefferd 0, Ca. Lautzenheiser 0, Owens 0.