Parkway freshman Dylan Hughes (3) and Crestview junior Derick Dealey (24) battle for a loose ball during a Division IV sectional championship game at Van Wert on Friday, March 2, 2018. The top-seeded Knights needed a fourth quarter rally to advance with a 55-48 win. (Photo courtesy Wyatt Richardson)
Parkway freshman Dylan Hughes (3) and Crestview junior Derick Dealey (24) battle for a loose ball during a Division IV sectional championship game at Van Wert on Friday, March 2, 2018. The top-seeded Knights needed a fourth quarter rally to advance with a 55-48 win. (Photo courtesy Wyatt Richardson)
VAN WERT — Under .500 and coming off a winless conference schedule, not many people thought Parkway would put up much of a fight in it’s Division IV sectional title game against top-seeded Crestview. The Panthers had the Knights on the ropes late, but a pair of late 3-point plays helped Crestview to advance with a 55-48 victory.

“I’ve been watching them the last couple of weeks in anticipation that we could play them. One thing they were doing that really impressed me was that they were playing so hard,” Crestview head coach Jeremy Best said of the Panthers. “They were physical, and they were challenging people. They play a great schedule, and they played a lot of those teams really tough all year. I knew, maybe my guys didn’t know, but I knew Parkway would come and compete, and they did. But I am proud of our guys; we found a way. When you get to the tournament, that’s what you do, you find a way and you move on.”

The Panthers (10-14) led by as many as six late in the third quarter and carried a 40-36 advantage into the fourth. A Javin Etzler 3-pointer pulled Crestview to within a point, and Wade Sheets connected on a floater in the lane to give Crestview a 41-40 lead. The Panthers, in what became a physical struggle in the final six minutes, finally regained the lead on a Nick Hawk bucket in the lane, and the Panthers had a chance to extend on their next possession, but Corey Walls’ runner didn’t fall.

Moving quickly to the other end, Etzler dropped in a 5-footer with 2:46 left. Seven second later, Crestview junior Drew Kline picked the pocket of the Parkway point guard and took the ball the other way, scoring on a contested layup and drawing a foul. He sank the free throw for a 46-42 Crestview lead.

“That’s what has made us move down the road here through the season is our ability to defend,” Best said.

After Walls pulled the Panthers back to within a bucket, Crestview senior Derek Stout, who had been held scoreless in the first half, worked the low block for a spinning reverse layup and drew a foul. His made free throw with 1:35 on the clock gave the Knights (20-3) some much-needed breathing room, and they eventually finished off a 7-point win.

“Derek Stout had a huge 3-point play at the end,” Best said. “He was a little more with us in the second half, and our guys noticed and tried to get it to him.”

“I’m just so proud of the effort and the intensity with which we played tonight against a very, very good Crestview team,” Parkway head coach Doug Hughes said. “I couldn’t happier about the intensity that we played with tonight and the intensity we showed at both ends of the floor.”

Crestview built a 5-0 lead in the first 40 seconds of the game, but it didn’t take long for Parkway to show its mettle. Caleb Kinney scored on a drive, then Walls drilled a 3-pointer from the corner to knot the score. After Jack Wehe scored on consecutive trips, the Knights were forced to use a timeout to halt a 9-0 Panther run.

Javin Etzler got rolling for Crestview out of the break, scoring in the lane and then connecting on a three. Another Etzler trey followed shortly thereafter, and the Knights looked like they may pull away when Kalen Etzler scored six points in the last 1:26 of the period. Crestview led 19-13 after eight minutes.

The lead grew to as many as 10 early in the second quarter, but again the Panthers came back. Nick Hawk started what became an 8- run with a pair of free throws, then Walls and Kinney each connected from beyond the arc, pulling Parkway within a bucket. The teams battled back-and-forth from there, with Crestview taking a skinny 30-29 lead into halftime.

In the third, it was all Panthers. Kinney, Parkway’s leading scorer, got rolling first from the foul line and then on a put-back after a Parkway miss. Parkway reclaimed the lead at 33-32 before Kinney extended that margin on a fast break layup. Hawk then made it 37-32 with a hoop in the lane, and Parkway led 40-34 when Hawk scored on an offensive rebound late in the period.

The Panthers shot 48 percent and were 5 of 10 from 3-point range in the first half, but closed the game by making just seven of their final 23 shots (30 percent) and went 0-for-6 from downtown in the second half. Hawk led the way with 11 points. Kinney and Jack Wehe each scored 10.

Crestview was paced by Javin Etzler’s 17 points and 9 rebounds. Stout scored all 11 of his points in the second half, and Wade Sheets finished with 10 points. The Knights will face Ottoville in the 6:15 game at Elida’s Fieldhouse on Tuesday, March 6.

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PARKWAY (48)

Dylan Hughes 1-4 0-0 2, Corey Walls 3-9 1-2 9, Caleb Kinney 4-7 1-2 10, Jack Wehe 4-7 0-0 10, Nick Hawk 3-9 5-5 11, Preston Stober 1-4 0-0 2, Mason Baxter 1-4 0-0 2, Andrew Baker 1-2 0-0 2; Totals 18-46 7-9 48

CRESTVIEW (55)

Drew Kline 3-6 1-1 8, derick Dealey 0-2 0-0 0, Wade Sheets 4-9 2-3 10, Javin Etzler 6-12 2-2 17, Derek Stout 4-10 3-3 11, Kalen Etzler 1-2 3-3 6, Trevor Gibson 1-3 1-2 3, Jace Vining 0-0 0-0 0; Totals 19-44 12-14 55

Parkway 13 16 11 8 - 48

Crestview 19 11 6 19 - 55

3-point field goals: Pwy 5-16 (Wehe 2, Walls 2, Kinney), Cvw 5-14 (JEtzler 3, KEtzler, Kline); Rebounds: Pwy 27 (Hawk/Kinney 5), Cvw 26 (JEtzler 9); Assists: Pwy 7 (Hughes 3), Cvw 7 (3 players w/ 2); Turnovers: Pwy 15, Cvw 13; Fouls: Pwy 17, Cvw 12