A Crestview player heads towards the basket as Columbus Grove's Riley Brubaker (11) defends on the play. (Photo submitted)
A Crestview player heads towards the basket as Columbus Grove's Riley Brubaker (11) defends on the play. (Photo submitted)

Sean LaFontaine

DHI Correspondent

sports@putnamsentinel.com

ELIDA – Just over a week and a half ago it took Crestview an extra period to eventually defeat Columbus Grove. Tuesday night in Elida, the Knights didn’t even need four quarters.

Crestview opened the game on a 16-2 run and never looked back to defeat the Bulldogs 65-34 in Division IV district semi-final action.

The Knights got off to a fast start, thanks in large part to senior Cameron Etzler. Just seconds into the game, Etzler got a basket and the foul, then followed that up on the next possession with a lay-up to put the Knights out to a quick 5-0 lead.

After a Will Vorhees basket for Grove, Crestview rattled off the next 11 points of the game. Five different Knights scored on the run, a theme that was carried on throughout the night.

The Knights held a 19-4 lead when Isaiah Simerman stepped up big for the Knights.

Crestview head coach Jeremy Best spoke about his teams’ fast start and total team effort.

“Isaiah Simerman came in and hit some big shots for us coming in off the bench,” said Best. “Games like this during tournament time, you have your five starters, but it’s your guys that come in off the bench that pay dividends and make a difference. I thought our bench was great tonight. Simerman hit some big shots, Eli Jones brought some great energy and Mitchell Rickard played hard.”

The senior scored the next nine points for Crestview, going three for three from behind the arc. Simerman’s hot shooting vaulted Crestview to a 28-11 lead midway through the second quarter.

On the next possession the Knights went up by 20 after a Damian Helm three, but the Bulldogs fought back.

Vorhees and Jace Darbyshire hit back-to-back threes to cut into the Crestview lead. After a Knight basket, Darbyshire hit another three to make the score 33-20 with under a minute to play in the half.

Just when it looked like the Bulldogs were making a comeback, Helm hit another three just before the end of the half to give Crestview a 36-20 lead going into the locker room.

If the Bulldogs were going to come back, it was important they got off to a good start to begin the second half, but the Knights made sure that didn’t happened.

Crestview opened the second half on a 10-2 run, led by Connor Lautzenheiser who had five points and senior Tyson Bolenbaugh with four. The spurt put Crestview up 46-22 halfway through the third quarter.

The Knights kept the pressure on in the fourth quarter and never looked back on their way to a 65-34 victory over Columbus Grove.

Best spoke about his team’s game plan heading into Tuesday night.

“We came out and put a little more pressure on the ball early and we thought we couldn’t let them get in their half court offense, pound it in the post and get in a rhythm. A big key for us was to set the tone and come out swinging with our defensive pressure. We gave up a few things but I thought overall it really jump-started our kids tonight.”

Crestview once again was very balanced in their scoring, with four players in double digits. Helm led the way with 14 points; Lautzenheiser and Bolenbaugh added 12 and Simerman had 11.

The Knights shot well from the field going 25-48 (52 percent) from the field, including hitting on 7 of 15 (46 percent) threes.

Best commented on his team’s hot shooting from three.

“Obviously that was key and some of that was created because we were playing at a pretty good pace. They were scrambling back trying to find us. Everything is good when you’re making them and the game flows a little bit easier.”

The Knights advance to play Miller City Friday night at the Elida Fieldhouse in the district finals. The game is scheduled for a 7 p.m. tipoff.

* * *

Crestview 22 14 16 13 – 65

Columbus Grove 6 14 9 5 – 34

Crestview (65) Zaleski 3, Etzler 7, Lautzenheiser 12, Helm 14, Rolsten 2, Simerman 11, Bolenbaugh 12, Jones 4

Columbus Grove (34) Darbyshire 12, Bogart 3, Warnecke 2, Jones 2, Nev 3, Vorhees 12