Crestview’s Eli Jones takes a shot during a game at Parkway High School Saturday evening. The Knights defeated the host Panthers 69-39. (Times Bulletin/Pat Agler)
By Brian Bassett
Times Bulletin Sports Editor
ROCKFORD - It was a game of runs.
Crestview just had more of them, for longer amounts of time, than Parkway, as the Knights eased to a 69-39 win in the boys basketball non-conference rivalry game between the two schools Saturday evening at Parkway High School.
"It was a strange 30-point win," explained Crestview coach Jeremy Best.
Parkway coach Will Snyder agreed. "I thought we played well in spurts. I thought the game got away in other spurts. When we went toe-to-toe with them and played well, we could play with them. But there was a spurt at the beginning of the game, there was a spurt at the end of the second quarter, and there was spurt at the end of the third quarter.
"That's where they built their lead - in about four minutes of game. It just kind of got away from us."
The Knights shot out to a 14-7 lead, which was capped by a three-pointer from junior guard Isaiah Simerman, and turned it into a 20-12 advantage at the end of a quarter.
Parkway answered with a trey from junior guard Austin Adams to open the second quarter, and a layup from junior post Brant Barna brought Parkway within two, 22-20, at the mid-way point of the second.
"We got off to a pretty good start and stretched a lead out there. They cut it to two, and I just thought our level of intensity fell off the face of the earth," said Best. "We had some substitutions, and those guys brought great energy to end the half. We went from being up two to being up 16 at the half."
Senior guard Alex Brown entered in the second quarter, and scored all of his seven points for the game on 3 of 3 shooting. Sophomore guard Preston Zaleski also entered in the frame, and posted five of his game-high 17 points.
After pulling within two, the Panthers scored only two points during the remainder of the half, and the teams went to halftime with Crestview leading 38-22.
Parkway responded to open the third quarter, riding the hot hand of Barna, who scored seven quick points. Barna's points, plus another Adams three brought Parkway within 10, 32-42 with 5:05 to play in the third.
"There in the third quarter they cut it to 10. I thought we did a terrible job of defending - especially in the post... But again, different guys brought different energy. It was a good effort of a majority of our guys tonight," described Best.
Snyder also mentioned the play of Barna, and how the run kept Parkway alive, momentarily. "I think Brant really started, tonight, to put it together, offensively. He's been a force defensively and on the boards all year. Tonight he had some big shots and he went right at them. He was physical and strong - you could see the confidence in him."
Unfortunately for the Panthers, when Barna cooled off, Zaleski picked up right where he left off in the first half. He accounted for 10 of Crestview's 16 points in the third quarter, going 4 of 4 from the field.
After pulling within 10, the Panthers didn't score during the remainder of the third, and trailed 54-32 after three.
The fourth was mop-up duty for both teams, and the Knights came away with a 69-39 win.
Eleven players scored for Crestview in the contest, with 10 of them scoring while the game was still in doubt.
Best was pleased with the distribution of production from his team. "We talked about, are you going to be an every-day guy or a once-in-a-while guy? We've got guys who are competing for minutes. That's healthy - that's good."
Zaleski's 17 points on 7 of 8 shooting led all scorers, and he added three rebounds, an assist and three steals, while creating havoc in the Panther passing lanes. "He's a jitterbug out there," explained Best of Zaleski. "That's one thing we know he's always going to bring - effort. It was nice to see him knock down shots. He earns that because he brings that dimension - that electricity."
Junior forward Damian Helm added 11 points and 10 rebounds and four assists for the Knights.
Crestview shot 22 of 35 (63 percent) from two-point range on the evening, and 5 of 14 (36 percent) from three. In total, they managed 27 of 49 (55 percent). They were also efficient with the assist-to-turnover ration, dishing out 13 assists to 12 turnovers.
Barna led the Panthers with 11 points and five rebounds. Sophomore point guard Tanner Bates added nine points, while guard Austin Dennison tallied seven rebounds and five assists.
Parkway shot 32 percent (13 of 41) from the field. They managed 8 of 27 (30 percent) from two-point range, and 5 of 14 (36 percent) from deep. They had eight assists to 16 turnovers.
"Consistency, right now, is our big thing," said Snyder. "The three games up to this one, you can point to about a two or three-minute point in each one game (where we didn't execute). Tonight we had more, Crestview is really good. But that's the time of the game where you win games, that two or three minutes, and that's what we really have to focus on."
The Knights won the battle of the boards 26-22.
With the win, the Crestview improves to 4-0 on the season. The loss drops the Panthers to 0-4 on the campaign.
Crestview won the junior varsity contest 71-24.
CRESTVIEW (2pt. 3pt. FT Tot.)
Etzler 3-5 0-4 1-3 7, Helm 5-8 0-1 1-3 11, Bolenbaugh 3-5 0-0 1-1 7, Heffner 0-1 0-2 2-2 2, Ream 1-3 0-0 1-1 3, Zaleski 4-4 3-4 0-0 17, Simerman 0-0 2-3 0-0 6, Brown 3-3 0-0 1-1 7, L. Gibson 1-2 0-0 0-0 2, Jones 1-1 0-0 1-1 3, J. Gibson 1-1 0-0 2-3 4, Lautzenheiser 0-1 0-0 0-1 0.
Schmitt 1-1 0-4 0-0 2, Dennison 0-1 0-2 2-2 2, Barna 5-11 0-0 1-5 11, Heindel 2-8 0-0 2-2 6, Adams 0-1 2-2 0-0 6, L. Bates 0-1 0-0 1-2 1, T. Bates 0-4 3-6 0-0 9, Schaffner 0-0 0-0 2-4 2.
Crestview 20 18 16 15 - 69
Parkway 12 10 10 7 - 39