Crestview’s Damian Helm blocks the shot of Delphos St. John’s Curtis Geise in a game at Robert. A. Arnzen Gymnasium Friday. The Knights escaped with a 42-36 win. (Times Bulletin/Tom Morris)
Crestview’s Damian Helm blocks the shot of Delphos St. John’s Curtis Geise in a game at Robert. A. Arnzen Gymnasium Friday. The Knights escaped with a 42-36 win. (Times Bulletin/Tom Morris)

By Jim COx

Times Bulletin Correspondent

sports@timesbulletin.com

DELPHOS - Thirty-two minutes of smothering defense and 13 fourth-period points by Cam Etzler carried Crestview to a 42-36 win over Delphos St. John's Friday night. The Knights are now 3-0. It was the first game for the Blue Jays.

It was an impressive defensive performance by both teams -- combined with some cold shooting at both ends -- that led to a 28-27 Delphos lead going into the fourth stanza. Crestview's 6-6, 285-pound post, Josh Ream, then muscled in a layup to put the visitors up 29-28. The Jays' muscular 6-3 center, Seth Bockey, split a pair of free throws to tie it at 29, and that's when Knight junior Cam Etzler took over at the offensive end.

Etzler banged inside to draw a foul, cashing in both freebies. Delphos junior Eric Clark escaped for an open layup to tie it, but Etzler bounced in a ten-foot jumper from in front -- 33-31, Knights, at 5:26. Jay sophomore Andy Grothouse sneaked in for a layup to tie it at 33, but back came Etzler, this time on a trey from the left wing -- 36-33. Clark hit the first of two free throws, but Etzler slashed down the lane and banked in a left-handed layup to lead 38-34 with 1:42 remaining. Senior Ryan Buscher kept St. John's in it with an open layup, but the Blue Jays were forced to foul Etzler with 0:37 on the clock, and he, of course, made both shots to stretch the lead to 40-36. The Jays misfired, and Etzler escaped for an open layup with 12 ticks left to seal the deal.

The Knights started the game with an 8-2 run and led 12-7 after one, half of their points coming on threes by Damian Helm, one from each wing. Etzler started the second quarter with a breakaway layup (assist from Tyson Bolenbaugh) to lead 14-7, but Delphos reeled off 11 points in a row to lead 18-14. It was 20-16, Jays, at the half, and the bricks were plentiful: St. John's was 5 for 18 from the field at that point, Crestview 6 for 24. Senior Curtis Geise, Delphos's leading scorer the past two seasons, had eight points at the break, all on free throws, no misses. He wouldn't score at all in the second half, and seldom was able to get off a shot.

The cold shooting continued in the third period, which featured two ties and four lead changes. Etzler had six points during the quarter, the last two on free throws to put the visitors up 27-26 at 2:40. Buescher, however, stole the ball at mid-court and laid one in at 0:26 to give Delphos a 28-27 lead after three.

"That (defense) is why I'm standing here with half a smile on my face," said Knight coach Jeremy Best. "We were able to defend very well. Geise didn't have a field goal, and that's huge. He's a great player. Alec Heffner did a great job defending him. We didn't play all that well. They got to the free throw line more than we did. It was physical. We got beat up a little bit, but we found a way. I think this game will go a long way toward our development."

"Coach Best does a great job with his guys," said Blue Jay mentor Aaron Elwer. "They hang their hat on the defensive end. They were tough, and they were physical. Man, they made it extremely difficult for us. By the same token, we made some poor decisions. Our inability to make the extra pass hurt us tonight. When a team is that good defensively and is physical, you have to beat them by the pass, not the dribble, and we weren't able to do that tonight."

The field goal shooting stats for the game were nothing to write home about, Delphos firing at a 29 percent (11 for 38) clip, Crestview at 33 percent (15 for 45). The Knights had the better of it from the stripe -- 73 percent (8 of 11) to 61 percent (11 of 18). The visitors won the battle of the glass, 29-19, and had one less turnover, 11 to 12.

"Our offense will get better," added Best. "They (the Jays) did a nice job. They ran like a sagging man, kind of a matchup zone, and we had a hard time figuring it out at first. Then we didn't make shots, and when you don't make shots, it snowballs. That was our problem in the first half, but we were persistent. We had a little fortitude tonight, and I liked seeing that."

"For the most part, we held a really good team to a really low number," said Elwer. "We had our two biggest breakdowns at the two most critical times. Etzler is a really good player, and he took advantage of our mistakes. We've gotta be better offensively, and that will come. We'll get better. We had an opportunity with one possession, but unfortunately, we just didn't get the job done."

Etzler's 21-point effort was the only double-digit scoring job. Helm chipped in with nine on three treys. The Blue Jays' scoring was well-balanced among Buescher (9), Geise (8), Bockey (7), Clark (6), and Grothouse (6).

The Crestview jayvees are now 2-1 after a 44-30 win. Mitchell Rickard and Connor Lautzenheiser led the Knight scoring with 16 and 14. Gage Seffernick and Alex Odenweller had 12 and 11 for St. John's (0-1).

Score by quarters:

Delphos St. John's 7 13 8 8 - 36

Crestview 12 4 11 15 - 42

Delphos St. John's (36)

Buescher 4 0-0 9, Clark 2 1-2 6, Geise 0 8-8 8, Koester 0 0-0 0, Bockey 3 1-4 7, Grothouse 2 1-2 6, Hays 0 0-2 0. Totals 11 11-18 36.

Crestview (42)

Etzler 7 6-6 21, Helm 3 0-0 9, Heffner 1 0-0 2, Bolenbaugh 1 2-2 4, Ream 3 0-3 6, Zaleski 0 0-0 0, Simerman 0 0-0 0, Brown 0 0-0 0. Totals 15 8-11 42.

Three-point field goals: DSJ 3 (Buescher, Clark, Grothouse), Crestview 4 (Helm 3, Etzler).