ELIDA – This was no experiment. It had been proved over 25 games.
If Crestview gets the basketball to its big men, good things happen.
The No. 1-ranked Knights (25-0) did that and good things happened again when they defeated Miller City 54-39 to win the Division IV boys basketball district championship at Elida on Friday night.
Damian Helm, a 6-foot, 4-inch senior, scored 21 points and pulled down 6 rebounds and Tyson Bolenbaugh, a 6-foot, 5-inch senior, had 12 points, 13 rebounds and 6 blocked shots to lead the Knights past Miller City.
“Our guys always try to get it inside. Our guards do a great job of getting it to us,” Bolenbaugh said.
Helm, who also stepped outside to hit four 3-pointers, said, “We knew going in we’d have a height advantage down low with me, Tyson and Eli (Jones). In the second half we definitely made more of a concerted effort to get it down there because once you get it down there, good things usually happen,” he said.
Miller City (16-9) had only one starter taller than 6-feet tall, which meant Bolenbaugh and Helm were going to see the ball coming their way maybe even a little more than usual.
“That’s something we try to go to no matter what the situation. Those guys are highly productive. Those guys both shoot 60, 70 percent from the floor, so it’s got to get down to those guys,” Crestview coach Jeremy Best said.
“We needed Tyson to be big and kind of control the paint and that’s what he did,” he said.
Led by its inside game and a defense that held Miller City to 24 percent field goal shooting (10 of 41), Crestview won its first district championship since 2003, when it was Division IV state runner-up.
“It feels amazing. We got here the last three years and we’ve fallen to St. Henry the last two years. It’s definitely a great feeling to get past that district semis game and move on to the regional,” Helm said.
Crestview will play Ottawa Hills at 8 p.m. Tuesday in a regional semifinal at Bowling Green State University. Wayne Trace will match up with Buckeye Central in the other semifinal at 6:15 p.m.
Maybe the best chance for Miller City to put pressure on Crestview was to shoot the ball well, hit a few 3-pointers and get some momentum on its side.
But exactly the opposite happened when Miller City made only 1 of 21 shots in the first half and watched Crestview take a 26-12 halftime lead. The Wildcats missed their first 15 shots before Cory Heuerman broke the streak with a 15-footer two minutes into the second quarter.
Crestview went up by 16 points, 37-21, with three minutes left in the third quarter, but Miller City fought back to within nine points, 40-31, by the end of the quarter.
When Connor Lautzenheiser and Helm hit back-to-back threes in the first 90 seconds of the fourth quarter and Crestview’s lead grew to as much as 21 points with 2 ½ minutes to play, any thoughts of a comeback disappeared, though.
Adam Niese scored 16 points to lead Miller City.
“Our kids had a lot of fight in them but it just wasn’t enough,” Miller City coach Bryan Kuhlman said. “Crestview is such a good team. You have to have your ‘A’ game and hope for a little bit of an off night for them and tonight it just didn’t happen that way.”
Adam Niese 16, Adam Drummelsmith 8, Corey Heuerman 6, Jacob Gerten 5, Jackson Lammers 4. Totals: 10–17–39.
Damian Helm 21, Tyson Bolenbaugh 12, Cam Etzler 9, Connor Lautzenheiser 6, Mitchell Rickard 6. Totals: 19–8–54.
Score by quarters:
Miller City 5 7 19 8–39
Crestview 8 18 14 14–54
3-point goals: Crestview – Damian Helm 4, Connor Lautzenheiser 2, Mitchell Rickard 2; Miller City – Corey Heuerman 1, Jacob Gerten 1.