(Wyatt Richardson)
(Wyatt Richardson)

CONVOY — Jan. 15 the Lady Knights hosted Coldwater, that was the last time this Crestview girls basketball team ended a game on the losing side. Thursday night marked Crestview’s ninth straight win, as they defeated the visiting Paulding Panthers 45-43.

With five minutes left in the fourth Bailey Gregory hit a 3-pointer that gave Crestview the lead and served as the last field goal of the game. The next five minutes were a chess match, both teams vying to score, Paulding trying to tie the game up and Crestview looking for breathing room. Paulding’s Sadie Estle hit a single free throw to bring the game within two.

With just over 30 second remaining Chelsi Giesige knocked the ball away from Bailey Gregory on an inbounds pass, Giesige dived on the ground got possession and immediately called a time out. Out of the time out the Lady Panthers’ plain was clear; get the ball down low to either Bri Townley or Audrey Giesige for a high percentage shot, but the Lady Knights were able to shut down any passing lane. Chelsi Giesige, out of time and open teammates, chucked up a 3-pointer from the top of the key. Giesige’s shot, which would have won Paulding the game if it found nylon, banged off the back iron.

Though Crestview eventually walked away with the win, the game, at first, appeared to be heading in a completely different direction. Paulding jumped out to 13-2 lead in just two minutes play.

“That’s two games in a row where our opponents got out to a quick start,” said the Lady Knights head coach Mark Gregory. “With this group I don’t get real concerned about that. I know how hard each and every one of those girls fight for each other.”

Paulding held that double digit lead till the beginning of the second quarter when Crestview started hitting perimeter shots. All of Paulding first 23 points came from three players, Townley and the Giesige’s. In fact, of the Lady Panthers’ 43 points, 40 came from those three. Townley led with 16, Chelsi Geisige scored 14 and Audrey Geisige scored 10.

Thought the same could be said about Crestview, as 38 of the Lady Knight’s 45 points came from Bailey Gregory (16), Lexi Gregory (12) or Olivia Cunningham(10).

3-pointers were a major factor in getting back into the game for Crestview. The Lady Knights shot 8-16 from the perimeter, including three 3-pointers in the second quarter where they outscored their opponent 18-9 to limit the deficit to one possession at half.

Out of the break the Lady Knights flashed five points to take their first lead of the game , at 29-27, but Paulding didn’t quit. The score changed hands three times in the third and the score was tied three times as well.

“Credit to the Panthers, they played their tails off,” said Gregory unknowingly making a cat pun. “If I was in their locker room, I would be so proud of those girls too— just for their effort.”

Paulding held a slim lead into the fourth, 40-39, but a pair of Bailey Gregory threes gave the Lady Knights the win.

“We had a lot of girls step up and make shots when we really needed them the most,” noted Coach Gregory. “Again, it’s just what they have been doing here all season long.”

With the win the Lady Knights stay alive in the NWC hunt. Spencerville, Columbus Grove and Bluffton all hold a single loss, while Crestview holds two. The Knights play Spencerville next Thursday in the final conference game of the season. So Crestview holds their destiny as if they win they need some help and have a chance to be co-champs of the NWC.

With this win Crestview is now 13-5 on the season, 5-2 in the NWC. Paulding drops to 8-10, 2-5 in the NWC.

Summary

Paulding 18|9|13|3- 43

Crestview 6|18|15|6- 45

Lady Panther

Bri Townley 16 pts, 5 reb; Chelsi Geisige 14 pts, 5 reb, 1 ast; Audrey Geisege 6 pts, 1 reb; Janae Pease 2 pts, 1 reb; Sadie Estle 1 pts, 3 reb

Lady Knights

Bailey Gregory 16 pts, 2 reb, 2 ast; Lexi Gregory 12 pts, 5 reb, 2 ast; Olivia Cunningham 10 pts, 3 reb; Haley Speith 5 pts, 4 reb; Reagan Hammons 2 pts, 4 reb, 1 ast; Lauryn Black 4 reb