Crestview’s Cam Etzler drives the lane between a pair of Wayne Trace defenders in the championship game of the Van Wert Hospital Tip-Off Tournament Saturday. The Knights won the contest 60-40. (Times Bulletin/Tina Eley)
Crestview’s Cam Etzler drives the lane between a pair of Wayne Trace defenders in the championship game of the Van Wert Hospital Tip-Off Tournament Saturday. The Knights won the contest 60-40. (Times Bulletin/Tina Eley)

By Kevin Wannemacher

Times Bulletin Business Manager

sports@timesbulletin.com

VAN WERT - Crestview proved to be too quick and too athletic for Wayne Trace on Saturday night as the Knights ran past the Raiders 60-40 in the championship game of the Van Wert Hospital Tip-Off Classic at Van Wert High School.

The Knights, who slipped past host Van Wert on Friday, appeared to suffer a big blow early in the contest when starting center Josh Ream picked up his second foul before two minutes elapsed in the contest.

However, that proved to be a huge benefit for Crestview as Knight head coach Jeremy Best went to a four guard lineup that the Raiders simply couldn't handle.

When Ream exited, Wayne Trace was on top 6-2 and actually widened the lead to 8-2 shortly thereafter on a Ryan Kortokrax basket.

Crestview, though, dominated from that point on.

The Knights closed the first quarter on an 11-3 run and never looked back. A basket by Cam Etzler ignited the run and Preston Zaleski hit one of two foul shots to get Crestview within 9-5.

Wayne Trace pushed the margin to 11-5 on a Corbin Linder bucket but that would be it for the Raiders. Crestview added consecutive baskets by Alex Brown and Isaiah Simerman along with two buckets from Damian Helm for a 13-11 advantage after one quarter.

The two teams traded baskets to open the second stanza before Crestview took complete control. Simerman hit treys on two straight Crestview possessions and an Alec Heffner free throw widened the lead to 22-13. Two Helm free throws and another Simerman three-pointer put the Knights in firm control at 27-14.

"I was concerned when Josh got into foul trouble so quickly," noted Best. "We went to the four guard lineup which made allowed us to use our quickness and our athleticism and the kids did a good job of being aggressive. We were a little concerned after watching Wayne Trace play Friday night but I though our guys really worked hard and took advantage of the openings we had."

Etzler closed out the Knight scoring in the second quarter with a bucket that gave Crestview a 29-18 lead at the intermission.

"We were able to find the open person and hit some key shots," continued Best. "We want to get quality shots and I thought the guys did that tonight."

"They were more athletic, quicker and just better than us tonight," noted Raider head coach Jim Linder. "They had some kids step up and hit some big shots and we couldn't match that on the other end. They are a very good basketball team and it showed tonight."

Crestview opened the third quarter with a free throw from Helm and a Tyson Bolenbaugh basket to widen the margin to 32-18. The Knights widened the margin to as much as 41-22 on an Etzler bucket before settling for a 43-30 advantage entering the final quarter.

After the squads traded baskets to start the fourth period, Ream and Helm each picked up buckets to go along with a Simerman trey to expand the lead to 52-32. Wayne Trace never got any closer than 16 points from that point forward as the Knights cruised to the tournament title.

"We came into the tournament knowing we would get two quality opponents and good tests no matter who we played," concluded Best. "We found out some things about what we can do and what we need to work on."

Helm led the Knights with 17 points and eight rebounds while Simerman chipped in 16 markers and nine boards. Etzler also added 13 points, six caroms and four assists for Crestview.

"Cam (Etzler) was a big factor tonight," Linder added. "When they needed something, he was the difference. He was able to control the tempo and get them a basket or just settle the game down. He was a big factor tonight for them."

Kortokrax paced Wayne Trace with 16 points while Sinn chipped in ten markers and eight boards.

Crestview dominated the boards 41-29 and the Knights had fewer turnovers, 8-11. Crestview was 21 of 51 (40 percent) from the field compared to Wayne Trace's 16 of 50 (32 percent). From beyond the arc, the Knights converted 6 of 13 (46 percent) while the Raiders hit only 2 of 19 (11 percent).

Crestview returns to action Friday as the Knights visit Delphos St. John's before traveling to Parkway Saturday. Wayne Trace resumes play Saturday when the Raiders host Paulding.