Crestview senior Drew Kline slips by St. John’s defender Brady Parrish Tuesday night as he scores in the first quarter. (DHI Media/ Pat Agler)
Crestview senior Drew Kline slips by St. John’s defender Brady Parrish Tuesday night as he scores in the first quarter. (DHI Media/ Pat Agler)
ELIDA — Crestview didn’t just hop out to an early lead— they leaped to one. The Knights scored the first 18 points Tuesday night at the Elida Fieldhouse to beat Delphos St. John’s 53-34 in the District Semi-Finals.

Early on the season Crestview struggled getting a good start to most games, in fact it wasn’t until early January that the Knights would find their early game stride. Tuesday was something else entirely.

“You couldn’t have scripted that any better,” said Crestview head coach Jeremy Best. “St. John’s is tough, well coached and execute well, so we needed that start.”

Wade Sheets began the run when he was wild open underneath the hoop, then on the subsequent possessions the Etzler brothers scored. Derick Dealey nailed a 3-pointer, which received as roar from the crowd, which was then followed up by baskets from Drew Kline, Wade Sheets and Javin Etzler to put the Knights up 18-0 before St. John’s finally scored. Issac Fairchild hit a triple which would serve as the Blue Jays only points of the quarter.

“It’s certainly not the start you draw up or imagine, but that’s kind of our season in a nutshell,” said St. John’s head coach Aaron Elwer. “This has been a adversity filled year.”

But just as the Blue Jays have done all season long, they stared adversity in the face and didn’t back down. They took a 17 point deficit against the second ranked team in the state and made it a three possession game heading into half.

Jared Wurst opened the second with a basket, which saw an immediate answer from Javin Etzler. After that quick exchange St. John’s went on an 18-6 scoring run that spilled over into the third quarter.

Throughout the game the Blue Jays shot 4-20 from the perimeter. They hit three of those 3-pointers during this run, including two of the most exciting shots of the game.

Javin Etzler launched a three from deep beyond the top of the key, which ricocheted off the glass and into Wurst’s hands. Wurst took the ball, coast-to-coast, and hit a triple on the run with time expiring, a là Dwayne Wade.

When play resumed in the second half the Blue Jays kept it rolling, as junior Aiden Rode nailed a 3-pointer from the left wing to made the contest a two possession game at 28-23 in favor of Crestview.

“I was a little worried, a little skeptical, when we came out in the third quarter that [St. John’s] would take the momentum” said Best on the Knights tenuous start to the third quarter. “They had [the momentum] but we just kept hanging.”

Coach Best called a time out and the rest was history for the Knights. They scored the last five points of the third period, which translated into the final frame as they outscored their opponent 20-11 thanks to free-throws.

The big key to the Knights success Tuesday night, and every night for that matter, was their defense. All season long Crestview has been lock down in the second half. Tuesday, the Knights were tenacious for most of the game,barring the second quarter run by St. John’s. Crestview held the MAC school to shooting just 29 percent from the field, while winning the rebound margin and only allowing five offensive boards.

Throughout the season Crestview has had to deal with teams ‘beating the tar out of them,’ as Coach Best likes to point out, and Tuesday was no different. There was 37 personal fouls called which led to just under 40 free-throws attempted combined. Crestview was able to push away in the fourth thanks to 11 made from the charity stripe.

Though the Blue Jays managed to make it a five point affair in the third quarter, the 18 point run to begin the game proved to be too much for the Blue Jays.

“I’m proud of our guys,” said Elwer of his team’s performance. “To cut it down to five and make [Crestview] think a little bit, that shows how resilient we’ve been all year and is why we had to opportunity to play those guys in the district semi.

St. John’s graduates six seniors with this squad, including Tyler Ruda, Lucas Metcalfe, Curtis Schwinnen, Jared Wurst, Griffin Hamilton and Grant Csukker.

“I can remember when these guys started in our youth program,” said Elwer of his seniors. “They have meant a lot in terms of success, but they have also meant a lot in terms of younger guys learning something from them.

“Wins and losses aren’t always what it is, but the relationships and maturity process that these six have shown has been outstanding,” continued the Blue Jays head coach. “We are going to miss them in a lot of different ways.”

Crestview will play red-hot Kalida on Friday for a chance at the District title at the Elida Fieldhouse.

The Wildcats will have their handful if the Knights bring a balanced attack like that had tonight in which four their starters scored double digits.

***

St. Johns (34)

Jared Wurst 15 pts, 11 reb; Isaac Fairchild 6 pts, 4 reb; Aiden Rode 6 pts; Lucas Metcalfe 5 pts, 1 reb; Brady Parrish 2 pts, 1 reb, 1 ast

Crestview (53)

Javin Etzler 14 pts, 5 reb, 1 ast; Derick Dealey 14 pts, 4 reb, 1 ast; Kalen Etzler 11 pts, 8 reb, 2 ast; Wade Sheets 10 pts, 7 reb, 3 ast; Drew Kline 2 pts, 2 reb, 2 ast; Colton Lautzenheiser 1 pts, 4 reb; Brant Richardson 1 pts, 4 reb

DSJ 3 15 5 11 - 34

C’ View 20 6 7 20 - 53