By Jim Cox

Times Bulletin Correspondent

DEFIANCE - There was no evidence that this was only the third game of the season Thursday night, as two of the best Division IV teams in the area clashed at Tinora. Crestview escaped with a 59-55 win in a classic defensive slugfest. Both teams are now 2-1.

Free throw shooting was the big difference in the game, with Crestview firing away at a 74 percent clip (17 of 23) while the Rams were an icy 38 percent (6 of 16), but there was a lot more to this game than that.

The Knights' sensational freshman Emily Bauer nailed a put-back of her own miss with 14 seconds left in the third period to put Crestview on top to stay, 39-37. However, the Knights' lead was a precarious one throughout the fourth quarter.

Another Bauer layup (assist Mariah Henry) with 4:05 left in the game got the lead all the way up to 49-43, but then things got shaky for the visitors. A Ram free throw, then a layup off a Knight turnover closed the margin to 49-46, but Bauer calmly nailed two freebies -- 51-46 at 3:22. Tinora's deadly (from the field) point guard, Erica Smay, hit from the left elbow, but, after a Crestview miss, Smay was errant on two free throws to keep it at 51-48. Knight sophomore Lindsey Motycka, who had played an outstanding game up to that point, fouled out on the play that sent Smay to the stripe.

Kirstin Hicks hit the 7th and 8th in the Knights' string of 11 straight fourth quarter free throws -- 53-48 -- but Smay treyed from the left wing to cut it to two. Bauer hit a dandy reverse layup on the break, but Tinora's Breanna Hughes banked in a three from the left side, and it was back to 55-54 at the 1:22 mark. Hicks canned two more from the stripe, then Tinora's Rachel Wachtman and Crestview's Henry each split a pair at the line to keep it a one-possession game -- 58-55 at 0:23. The Knights' Kennis Mercer misfired on both ends of a double bonus, but Smay's potentially game-tying three was partially blocked, and Henry snared the board, adding another free throw at the end.

The first half was even more of a defensive donnybrook than the second, with shots hard to get, though usually going in when they came. Tinora was 9 for 16 (56 percent) in the first 16 minutes, Crestview 8 of 14 (57 percent). There were only ten rebounds to be had -- six by the visitors, four by the home team. The Knights led only once -- at 13-12 -- in that half.

The third period was a good one for the Knights, as they netted 9 of 16 fielders, with five of those baskets coming from Bauer. Tinora was still hot as well, nailing 5 of 11 field goal tries. There were six ties and three lead changes during those eight minutes.

The young Knights (Henry is the only senior) shot remarkably from the field (55 percent on 21 of 38) in the game, as well as from the line. They also won the board battle 23-15, although the Rams got the better of the turnovers, 16-23. Tinora shot a solid 47 percent (21 of 45) from the field for the game, and those numbers included seven treys. The Rams' extended man defense kept Crestview from shooting from beyond the arc at all.

Knight coach Greg Rickard was pleased with the performance of his young team, except for the turnovers. "At times we handled their defense well, and at other times we didn't," said Rickard. "At one stretch I called time out, and we had made five turnovers in seven possessions. That's one thing we have to clean up. That was our Achilles heel last year. You can't be in the twenties against really good teams and expect to win."

"But at crunch time everybody stepped up," Rickard was quick to add. "We talked about getting mentally tough in these road games, and I thought we responded pretty well in the fourth quarter."

Bauer and Motycka led Knight scorers with 22 and 11. Smay had 17 for Tinora.

Tinora (3-0) won the jayvee game 25-15. The Rams were led in scoring by Nicolle Helberg with eight. Crestview (1-2) was led by Claire Zaleski with eight, all in the first half

Score by quarters:

Tinora - 10 14 13 18 - 55

Crestview - 9 11 19 20 - 59

Tinora (55)

Smay 6 2-6 17, Weber 1 0-0 2, Gentit 2 0-1 6, Hughes 3 0-1 8, Wachtman 2 2-4 6, Seifert 3 2-2 8, Pedroza 1 0-0 2, Steingass 1 0-0 2, Olashuk 0 0-2 0, Mack 2 0-0 4. Totals 21 6-16 55.

Crestview (59)

Mercer 1 0-2 2, Riggenbach 4 0-0 8, Bauer 9 4-4 22, Motycka 3 5-5 11, Hicks 2 5-6 9, Crowle 0 1-2 1, Henry 2 2-4 6. Totals 21 17-23 59.

Three-point field goals: Tinora 7 (Smay 3, Gentit 2, Hughes 2), Crestview 0.