|Knights cap off perfect season with 1st State cage title|
|Sunday, March 23, 2014 8:08 PM|
BY JOHN PARENT
Times Bulletin Sports Editor
COLUMBUS — Crestview head coach Jeremy Best must give one heck of a halftime speech.
For the second time in as many games, the Knights came out of intermission firing on all cylinders. Crestview used an 18-0 run to start the third quarter to turn a three-point halftime margin into a 71-44 rout in Saturday’s Division IV state championship game, defeating Louisville St. Thomas Aquinas.
“That’s a pretty unique run. An 18-0 run is good stuff,” Best acknowledged after the game. “We can be explosive. Once we start getting some turnovers and some run-outs, that’s when we’re pretty good.”
It is the first state championship for the storied Knights boys basketball program.
“The last one (halftime speech) was pretty tough to top,” senior guard Cam Etzler said of the talking-to that Best gave the team on Saturday. “He just really stressed being tough. They (Aquinas) were being tougher than us, flat-out.”
After a fiery locker room talk on Thursday, Best said this one had a different tone.
“I was very calm today,” he noted. “We talked about just a mentality, a toughness. We wanted to take better care of the basketball. We keep it simple and that’s really what it came down to.”
As they have all year long, the Knights used their defense to ignite the rally.
Etzler came up with a steal at mid-court and found sophomore Connor Lautzenheiser on the wing for a transition 3-pointer that gave Crestview a 29-23 lead. On the next Aquinas possession, Tyson Bolenbaugh rejected a shot on defense, then scored in the low post at the other end.
“The transition game, that’s what got us going,” said senior wing Damian Helm, who had a game-high 20 points on the afternoon. “We got our stops, secured the rebounds and then we just converted on the other end. That was big for us to get those easy buckets out in transition.”
After another Aquinas turnover, it was Lautzenheiser draining another three and suddenly, the Knights led by 11.
Helm later added a three and a pair of Bolenbaugh baskets pushed Crestview’s margin to 44-23 before Aquinas finally got on the board for the first time in the quarter.
“It was just our defense,” Helm said of the game-changing run. “It didn’t really hit me until they took that timeout when we were up 19 and I was just like ‘whoa.’ We were doing some good things out there.”
Aquinas was 0-for-5 in the quarter and had seven turnovers before getting that first field goal with 2:43 to play in the period.
For the Crestview defense, it was a stark contrast to the efficiency they allowed Aquinas in the first half. The black-and-gold Knights made seven of their first 11 shots in the game, including each of their first four from downtown. Aquinas finished the first half at 9-for-18 (50 percent) overall but Crestview held them to 6-for-20 (30 percent) after halftime.
“I think it all came down to the defensive end,” Etzler added. “We really buckled down and got some turnovers. That started our offense.”
Bolenbaugh scored eight points in the third, a part of a 20-3 margin for Crestview in the quarter. The Knights used a 15-4 third period to take control of the state semi-final game versus Tri-Village on Thursday night.
“When we were able to get some shots and handle their pressure, we were able to get some layups, we got some kick-outs for threes. We were able to get in transition a little bit,” Best continued. “When you knock shots down, that helps the cause.”
Crestview took a 48-28 advantage into the final period, and the lead never got smaller than 20. Junior guard Preston Zaleski scored on back-to-back possessions, a part of his 5-for-6 effort from the floor. Then, after an Aquinas free throw, Helm scored the next seven consecutive points, the last of which came on a fast-break-turned-3-point-play with 3:37 to go that erased any possibility of an Aquinas comeback.
“Man, Crestview is a good team,” said Aquinas coach Matt Hackenberg. “They really D’d it up and made it hard for us to get good looks.”
The Knights took an early 7-2 lead on Saturday, with Lautzenheiser scoring five points in the opening two minutes of action. The speed of Aquinas gave the Knights some trouble, as Crestview coughed up an uncharacteristically-high 11 first-half turnovers.
“In the first half, I thought we got out to a pretty decent start and did what we wanted to do, and then that tide shifted a little bit,” Best noted.
Those miscues, combined with the hot Aquinas shooting, had the team from Louisville on the verge of taking a lead late in the second quarter, when Division IV co-Player of the Year Austin Hill misfired on a 3-pointer that would have put Aquinas on top.
“At that time, I’m thinking ‘don’t go in, please,’ or the momentum continues to shift their way,” Best added. “You don’t know how the course of a game is going to go. We weren’t real sure of the matchups with this team; we knew they were very guard-dominant, very pesky on the defensive end and ran their five-wide offense.
“When we make up our minds that we want to take away what they want to do — and this team has done it all year on the defensive end — we feed off of that.”
Hill averaged more than 17 points per game coming into the contest but the Crestview defense, with Helm drawing the man-to-man assignment, limited Hill to six points on 3-for-6 from the field.
“We knew their offense mainly ran through three guys and (Hill) was one of them. Coach emphasized just not giving any help off of him,” Helm explained. “He can fill it up. I knew my teammates were going to get good ball pressure and just take care of business, and I just had to do my job.
“Everyone was doing their job. Everyone had their part in today game and that was just mine: just staying close to (Hill) and not letting him get rolling.”
Helm paced the Knights with 20 points, coming on 6-of-12 shooting (3-for-5 3-point field goals) while Bolenbaugh added 15 points and eight rebounds.
“Coach talked about it, he said ‘we might have an advantage inside,’ so we tried to attack it,” Bolenbaugh noted. “All credit to my teammates, they get it in to me a lot. I just went with the flow of the game and tried to put it into the basket.”
Lautzenheiser shot 4-for-6 from the field for his 11 points with Zaleski adding 10. Etzler contributed five points, four assists and three steals in the victory.
“I just tried to go out there, enjoy the moment, and have fun,” Helm added. “I’m just thankful the shots fell tonight.
“It’s just great to know that we went out victorious in our last game.”
Score by quarters
Crestview 15 11 20 25- 71
Aquinas 9 14 3 18- 44
Preston Zaleski 10, Cam Etzler 5, Connor Lautzenheiser 11, Damian Helm 20, Tyson Bolenbaugh 18, Cody Meffered 2, Luke Gibson 2, Brock Rolsten 1, Isaiah Simerman 2, Mitchell Rickard 0, Cain Lautzenheiser 0, Nate Owens 0, Eli Jones 0, Braden Van Cleave 0,
Daniel Piero 5, Sam Pusateri 9, Anthony Moeglin 10, Jacob Paul 5, Austin Hill 6, Pete Ruthe 2, Gino Pellegrene 2, Jimmy Donnelly 2, Frank DiMarzio 3, Logan Newman 0
By RUSTY MILLER
LIMA CENTRAL CATHOLIC 64, CLEVELAND VILLA ANGELA-ST. JOSEPH
It came down to one shot for the high school basketball championship.
Lima Central Catholic Coach Frank Kill hoped for a favorable outcome — and got it.
Martyce Kimbrough had 22 points — including all four of his second-half points in the final 93 seconds — to lead Lima Central Catholic past Cleveland Villa Angela-St. Joseph 64-62 on Saturday in the Division III state boys final.
After VASJ (22-8) had cut the lead to a point on 6-10 junior Carlton Bragg’s 3-pointer with 6 seconds left, two LCC players missed three consecutive free throws. But Brian Parker’s heave from midcourt was just short, touching the front of the rim.
“I believed the ball was bouncing our way today,” Kill said. “And hopefully that one shot wasn’t going to be a back-breaker.”
The title was the second for the seventh-ranked Thunderbirds (25-4).
Bragg had 23 for defending champ VASJ, denied its sixth title.
The Thunderbirds led by 14 midway through the third quarter. But the Vikings would not go away.
LCC, staked to a lead after Kimbrough went off in the first half, never let VASJ get the lead.
After Xavier Simpson, who had 18 points for LCC, hit a high-arching floater with 5:41 left, the Thunderbirds were on top 51-44. But VASJ ran off the next seven points — the first five by Dererk Pardon and the last two on free throws by Bragg — to tie it with 4:31 left.
Pardon ended up with 17 points and 15 rebounds.
Cory Stewart and Simpson — again on a looping shot over the outstretched arm of Bragg — gave the Thunderbirds a 55-51 lead.
Bragg hit two foul shots only to have Kimbrough — scoreless in the second half to that point — make two more to get the margin back to four points.
Kimbrough hit the first of two shots with 37.8 seconds remaining for a 60-57 lead, then was fouled after a huge offensive rebound by Dantez Walton and hit another free throw five seconds later to make it 61-57.
Simpson made a foul shot before Parker sank two foul shots with 13.8 seconds on the clock to cut the lead to 62-59. Simpson made another free throw with 11.5 seconds left before Bragg — one of the most highly recruited juniors in the Midwest — came off a pick and drained the 3 with 6 seconds left.
The Thunderbirds then missed two foul shots, had a follow shot blocked and were fouled again with 1.7 seconds remaining. This time Tre Cobbs hit the first of two shots.
When he missed the second, Parker dribbled to near midcourt and flipped a shot that was right on line but came up just short.
Parker, a first-team all-stater and also a co-player of the year, who finished with 15 points.
LCC’s players celebrated in a large pile.
Jake Williams, an undersized 6-3 center, was an unsung star for LCC, not only playing tough defense but scoring 12 points and grabbing seven rebounds against VASJ’s large (6-11 and 6-8) frontcourt.
Exactly 17 years earlier, to the day, Kill had led Lincolnview High School to a state championship.
Asked if his coaching title was an upset, he added, “Not in my heart.”
NORWALK 65, COLUMBUS WATTERSON 58
With 4 minutes remaining and Norwalk hanging on to a suddenly tenuous lead over defending champion Columbus Watterson, Truckers guard Ben Haraway came up lame.
But Haraway was able to return despite a twisted ankle and his presence was huge down the stretch as the Truckers beat the Eagles 65-58 for the Division II state championship on Saturday.
Haraway scored 29 points, scoring nine points after he hobbled briefly to the bench, to lead the way.
He hit a free throw after limping to the free-throw line, then after Watterson pulled within four points with under a minute left, he made four foul shots in the final 36.6 seconds to lock up the victory — which came in Norwalk’s first-ever trip to the state’s final four.
First-team All-Ohioan Jeff Thomas added 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Truckers (29-1), who were ranked No. 2 in the final regular-season AP poll.
Second-team All-Ohioan Matt Hughes had 23 points and 10 rebounds for fourth-ranked Watterson (26-3), which hit just 4-of-24 behind the arc. Cody Calhoun added 15 points and Matt Lehmann had 11.
Norwalk made 8-of-11 shots from the field in the first quarter, scoring the final six points, to take a 20-14 lead it never relinquished. The Truckers led 31-19 at the half and 42-33 through three.
But Watterson, as canny and resilient a team as you’ll find, fought back to cut the gap to 61-57 with 53 seconds left on Hughes’ slashing drive through the paint.
After coach Steve Gray called a timeout to settle his team, Haraway took an inbounds pass and dashed the length of the court before being fouled with 36.6 seconds left. He made both foul shots to give the Truckers some breathing room.
Hughes came back with a free throw to make it a 5-point game but Haraway was fouled again while Norwalk spread the floor. He toed the line with 16.7 seconds left and made both — finishing 15-of-19 on free throws. The Eagles were only 16-of-22 as a team, compared to the Truckers’ 23-of-33.
LAKEWOOD ST. EDWARD 62, UPPER ARLINGTON 58, OT
The play wasn’t even designed to go to Marsalis Hamilton.
Yet he hit the shot heard ‘round the state.
Hamilton hit a tying 3-pointer at the regulation buzzer,and Associated Press first-team All-Ohioan Kipper Nichols hit two clinching free throws in overtime to propel Lakewood St. Edward to a 62-58 victory over Upper Arlington on Saturday night for the Division I state championship.
In the overtime, Nichols stepped to the line with St. Ed (26-2) hanging on to a 60-58 lead with 5.8 seconds left. He drained both to clinch the Eagles’ second title and first since 1998. They had been thwarted six other times in the state tournament.
Danny Hummer and first-team all-stater Kevin Vannatta each had 15 points for the Golden Bears (27-2), who were seeking their first championship since 1937. The Golden Bears led most of the game but were never on top in the overtime.
It appeared UA would pull the stunner after making two 3s late in regulation.
Vannatta made a 3 over Nichols on the left wing. After Nichols was long on a 15-foot jumper, Wes Davis poured in a 3 from the left foul-line extended and the lead was 48-42 with 3:21 remaining.
St. Ed, scrambling on defense and rushing back on the break, cut it to 48-47 when Hummer was fouled with 35 seconds left. He made both, part of a clutch 6-for-6 showing at the line.
Vuyancih then drove to the basket and hit a layup to make it a 1-point game. Inbounding under the St. Ed basket, UA’s Vannatta threw a pass to midcourt to a streaking Hummer who hit the layup with 11 seconds left for a 3-point lead.
St. Ed brought the ball down the court and called timeout with 4.7 seconds left. Hamilton inbounded in front of his bench and the ball came back to him. He released the shot with just over 2 seconds left and hit nothing but net.
The Eagles won the overtime tip and held onto it until Malcolm Waters drove with 1:49 left and hit the bucket. He missed the accompanying free throw.
Hummer was fouled and made both at the other end, then fouled St. Ed’s 6-9 sophomore Derek Funderburk on a follow, the post hitting both clutch shots.
Vannatta then missed a 3 and St. Ed threw a long pass to Vuyancih for a layup with 41 seconds left for a 58-54 lead.
With 33.6 seconds left, Hummer made two more foul shots for UA to cut the lead in half. But Waters was fouled while driving to the hoop and went to the line with 22.5 seconds left. He made both,and the advantage was again four points.
A 3 by Vannatta spun out but Logan Richter hit the follow with 8 seconds left to cut the lead to 60-58.
St. Ed put the ball in play under the UA basket and Hamilton threw a long pass to Nichols, who was fouled with 5.8 seconds left — and he made both to lock up the title.