(DHI Media/ Reid Maus)
(DHI Media/ Reid Maus)

VAN WERT — Two superbly athletic teams; two devout fandoms; one gym and only one winner. Crestview beat Van Wert 42-33 in a highly toted delayed matchup between the two Van Wert County teams.

It was a low scoring affair that was directly decided by one Crestview run. Van Wert was leading 29-25 with just over a minute remaining in the third quarter. Javin Etzler started and ended a 12 point run for the Knights which turned out to be the deciding blow. Etzler hit a 3-pointer from the left wing to put the Knights within one, 29-28. That was the last field goal of the third quarter. The fourth started off with a bang as the Knights got a jolt of energy from Colton Lautzenheiser and Derick Dealey as the two of them hit a pair of threes to keep the run going and give the Knights a lead they would never relinquish.

“In a game of possessions and battles defensively, you put together a run like that, a lot of times that is going to be the difference and it was,” said Crestview head coach Jeremy Best. “[Colton Lautzenheiser] hit a huge three, that was so cool for him to do that. Derrick [Dealey] hit a big one then we had Javin on the block for a ‘and-one.”

Saturday was the second straight night that Lautzenhesier served a huge role late in the game. Friday he provided a spark that let Crestview edge the difference against Kalida, then Saturday he hit a three to give the Knights a lead. The reaction that Lautzenheiser received from the Knight faithful as Best took him out of the game Saturday night shows dividends, as no other player received an ovation when leaving the floor.

Up until the 12-0 run for the Knights, the game was neck and neck. With a half dozen lead changes happening throughout the contest. Van Wert brought the energy early, as Le Trey Williams scored the first bucket of the game off of a Crestview turnover. This energy continued as the Cougars jumped out to a 7-2 lead. Defensively in the first half, the Cougars didn’t have much of an answer for Crestview’s Etzler brothers. Kalen and Javin Etzler combined for the first 18 points the Knights scored. Drew Kline scored the lone non-Etzler field goal for the Knights in the first half. Drew Bagley hit a 3-pointer for Van Wert which served as the final field goal of the first 16 minutes, 20-19 Crestview.

In the third quarter the Cougars controlled the game. Each Van Wert starter, sans Owen Treece, scored a field goal in third quarter. This led to the 29-25 lead just before the Crestview run. Van Wert’s turnovers in the fourth prevented them from getting back into the game.

“I’m really proud of our kids tonight,” said Van Wert head coach Mark Bagley. “Their effort was outstanding. We played our game-plan to perfection for three quarters. The fourth quarter…the mental is the physical as four is to one. Quite frankly, it was nothing that [Crestview] did defensively— as far as our turnovers we threw it right to them.”

The Cougars five turnovers in the fourth quarter prevented them from getting anything going offensively.

Giving up long runs as been the bane of the Cougars season thus far.

“Crestview went on a 12-0 run, that has been our bugaboo all year long,” said Bagley. “We have given up a 15-0 run to finish a game— the first game of the year. Several 10-0 and 12-0 runs, once the snowball started we couldn’t get it to stop.”

Crestview ended up holding off Van Wert for 42-33 low scoring victory. The Knights extend their record to 8-1 overall— their lone loss coming against Bluffton.

Van Wert is now 4-5 on the season and 2-2 against local schools. Their losses coming against Lincolnview and Crestview, their wins against Parkway and Wayne Trace.

Van Wert is on their ‘murders row’ of the schedule, not that any part of their schedule is easy. Including Crestview, Van Wert plays four straight teams that will more than likely be in the state’s first ranking (which comes out Tuesday). The four games goes as follows: Crestview, Ottawa-Glandorf who is put 100 points on Friday and is who Coach Bagley asserts is the best team on the schedule, Marion Local who is the defending state champs and Shawnee who is currently 10-1.

The next three games will be a barometer test for the Cougars. A win against these schools can provide the confidence to propel them down the line.

Summary:

Crestview: 10|10|8|15 - 43

Van Wert 9|10|10|4- 33

Knights:

Javin Etzler 20 pts, 6 reb

Kalen Etzler 12 pts, 10 reb

Wade Sheets 3 pts, 5 reb, 5 stl

Derick Dealey 3 pts, 2 reb

Drew Kline 2 pts, 2 reb, 2 ast

Van Wert:

Drew Bagley 10 pts, 6 reb, 2 ast, 2 stl

Nate Place 7 pts, 4 reb, 2 ast

LeTrey Williams 5 pts, 5 reb

Lawson Blackmore 5 pts, 3 reb

Blake Henry 4 pts, 2 reb