Laci McCoy of Crestview shoots the ball against Paulding on Thursday night. (DHI Media/Wyatt Richardson)
Laci McCoy of Crestview shoots the ball against Paulding on Thursday night. (DHI Media/Wyatt Richardson)

CONVOY — Fans of all ages enjoyed an NWC matchup in The Jungle on Thursday evening as the Panthers hosted the Knights for their final home contest of the season. The game came down to the final seconds, but Crestview pulled out the 52-50 victory to spoil senior night in Paulding.

There’s an often used cliche that says “free-throws win close games”, and that proved to be right on the money in this game as the Knights connected on 14 out of their 22 free-throw attempts, while the Lady Panthers were held scoreless from the free-throw line throughout the duration of the game.

It was a back and forth battle in the first quarter, as the Panthers drew first blood on a 3-pointer by senior Sydney McCullough. Crestview’s, Kylie Etzler answered immediately with a three-ball of her own to knot the game back up at three in the early moments.

Audrey Giesige and Lexi Gregory exchanged two’s, and Brooke Ankney broke the tie once again to take 7-5 advantage

The Knights went on to score on back-to-back trips to gain a one point advantage with 3:00 remaining in the first quarter.

Crestview and Paulding each recorded five points in the final 3:00 minutes of the first, and the Knights one point advantage held tough heading into the second quarter.

The Panthers came out firing in the second, scoring the first six points to gain a five point lead. Crestview killed the Paulding rally by scoring the next four points to climb back within one.

The Knights used a late second quarter hot streak to score seven straight points to grab a one possession lead, heading into the locker room with the score at 24-22.

The Lady Knights continued to be in control the game in the third, never giving the lead back to Paulding.

The Panthers cut the deficit within one point midway through the quarter, but the Knights proceeded to go on a 6-2 run to close out the third

With a four point lead, and the score at 35-31 heading into the final quarter, all the Lady Knights had to do was hold tough, and through it all, that’s exactly what they did.

Both teams continued to hit the mark in the fourth, with the Panthers getting the best of the Knights, out scoring the visitors 19-17 in the final quarter.

Crestview controlled the advantage for the first four minutes of the final eight, before Janae Pease really made things interesting after she nailed a 3-pointer with 3:29 left to regain a 43-42 lead.

Bailey and Lexi Gregory continued to be two of the most dependable players on the court, as they have all season, tallying 13 of Crestview’s 17 fourth quarter points.

Each team connected on two field goals, but with the Knights down one and the game on the line, Lexi Gregory stepped up yet again and drilled her only 3-pointer of the game to give Crestview a 52-50 lead, one that they would take to the final buzzer to knock off the Panthers.

Paulding ends the regular season at 18-4 overall, and a 5-3 mark in the NWC.

“We knew it was going to be like this,” explained Paulding Head Coach Samantha Schmenk. “We knew it was going to be a back and forth game and we knew that they could shoot. Everytime we left them open, they made the shot and when we were open we missed. Sometimes it happens like that, and I thought both teams played hard and both teams were well prepared.”

Meanwhile, the Crestview Knights have battled all season to the tune of a 12-9 final record while going 5-3 in NWC play.

“Laci McCoy was phenomenal tonight,” explained Crestview Head Coach Mark Gregory. “She had so many rebounds and impact plays, and she attacked the basket tremendously. We had so many girls step up and I’m just so proud of how everyone played.”

The Lady Knights will open up tournament play on Wednesday evening against Ayersville at Paulding High School.

BOX SCORE 1 2 3 4 T

CRESTVIEW 13 11 11 17 52

PAULDING 12 10 9 19 50

CRESTVIEW (52)

Lexi Gregory 14, Bailey Gregory 13, Olivia Cunningham 11, Laci McCoy 9, Kylie Etzler 5.

PAULDING (50)

Chelsie Giesige 11, Audrey Giesige 11, Sydney McCullough 8, Janae Pease 7, Jalynn Parrett 5, Sadie Estle 4, Leaha Egnor 2, Katie Strayer 2.