Crestview’s Alec Heffner drives past Van Wert’s Kyle Keber in a Van Wert Hospital Tip-Off Tournament game at Van Wert High School Friday. The Knights won the contest 50-43. (Times Bulletin/Brian Bassett)
By NICK JOHNSON
Times Bulletin Correspondent
VAN WERT- The Van Wert Cougars took on the Crestview Knights in boys basketball at Van Wert High School on Friday. This was the second game of the Van Wert Hospital tip-off classic. The Knights beat the Cougars in a hard-fought game, 50-43.
The Knights advance to the championship to play the Wayne Trace Raiders Friday evening. With the loss, the Cougars take on the Lincolnview Lancers in the consolation game.
The first quarter was back-and-forth, which featuring eight lead changes. At the end of the first, Crestview had a 13-12 lead. Cougar point guard Joey Hurless led all scorers with six points in the first quarter.
Van Wert scored six straight points to take 18-15 led over Crestview, including a Logan Ray basket and a foul and a Hurless three-pointer from the top of the arc in the second quarter.
Crestview countered with a run of their own to get themselves back in the game. Cam Etzler led the Knights on an 8-2 run to end the first half with four points during the run to give Crestview a 23-20 lead.
Hurless led all scorers at the half with nine points, but the Knights made it a point to slow him down in the second half.
The Cougars opened up the second half with a Nik Wolford layup, but then went scoreless for most of third quarter.
The Knights' Damian Helm scored six of the next eight points for Crestview as they extended their lead to 31-22 over Van Wert.
The Cougars got back on the scoreboard with back to back layups from A.J. Smith and Connor Holliday to bring the score to 31-26 Knights.
Crestview gained some momentum when, with no time on the clock, the Cougars fouled Tyson Bolenbaugh to put him at the line. Bolenbaugh made one of two to put the score at 32-26 Crestview.
Both teams got in the bonus early in the fourth quarter, and both teams shot a combined 21 foul shots in the fourth quarter. The Cougars got back into the game with a Smith layup and two foul shots to cut the Knights lead to 36-30.
With the score 42-36 Crestview, Bolenbaugh got a big three-point play to extend the lead to 45-36. Van Wert brought the crowd to its feet with an Smith lay-up and a Kyle Keber three-pointer to force the Knights to burn a timeout with one minute left and the score 46-41.
Crestview iced the game making four foul shots by Helm and Preston Zaleski to give the Knights a 50-43 win over the Cougars.
The Cougars had three players in double figures, as Hurless had 11, Smith had 10 and Matt Bidlack added 10. The Knights' top scores were Helm, who lead all scorers with 12, Etzler with nine, and Zaleski and Bolenbaugh tied with eight points apiece.
Van Wert shot 40 percent from the field of play, while the Knights shot 39 percent from the field.
"Well it's the first games of the year, and we have a lot of things to go over. They were very aggressive, I thought that was a big factor early in the game, and we really never adjusted to it. They took us out of our comfort zone and we couldn't make open shots," said Van Wert coach Dave Froelich.
"We are pleased that we came out on top. We made a lot of mistakes and had some break downs. I know coming into the game that both teams were going to play hard. I believe that both teams got a little tired towards the end of the game. But our kids made some mistakes down the stretch, it may have been a little bit of over coaching. Maybe we need to let our kids make plays," said Crestview coach Jeremy Best.
Van Wert (FG, FT, 3pt, Tot)
Nick Keber 0-0 0-0 0-3 0, Caleb Markward 0-1 0-0 0-0 0, A.J. Smith 3-6 4-4 0-0 10, Joey Hurless 1-3, 2-4 3-7 11, Kyle Keber 0-1 0-0 1-4 3, Conner Holiday 1-2 0-0 0-3 2, Logan Ray 1-3 1-1 0-0 3, Nik Wolford 2-2 0-0 0-0 4, Matt Bidlack 5-8 0-2 0-0 10, Totals: 13-26, 8-15, 3-14, 43
Crestview (FG, FT, 3pt, Tot)
Preston Zaleski 2-2 4-4 0-2 8, Cam Etzler 1-5 4-7 1-3 9, Damian Helm 2-4 8-10 0-3 12, Isaiah Simerman 1-1 0-0 0-2 2, Alec Heffner 2-3 0-0 1-1 7, Tyson Bolenbaugh 3-6 2-3 0-0 8, Josh Rea, 2-5 0-0 0-0 4 Totals: 13-27, 18-24, 2-11, 50