COLUMBUS – Crestview is known for its sticky man-to-man defense.
And no one best exemplified that job than the state’s player of the year Crestview’s Damian Helm.
Helm locked down on fellow state player of the year Louisville St. Thomas Aquinas’ Austin Hill and held him to six points, on only 3 of 6 shooting. Hill came in averaging 17 points per game.
That was one big reason for Crestview’s 71-44 victory over St. Thomas Aquinas to win the Division IV state championship Saturday at Ohio State’s Value City Arena.
“Coach told us their offense ran through three guys and he (Hill) was one of them,’’ Helm said. “We wanted to shade him and not give any help off him. He’s a dead-red shooter and he can fill it up. I knew my teammates would give good pressure and they would take care of business. I just had to take care of my job. That’s what it came down to, everyone doing their job. Everyone had their role and their part. I just wanted to stay close to him and not let him get going.”
In the first quarter, Hill barely touched the ball and didn’t have a shot.
By the half, Hill had two shots and two points.
After three quarters Hill had two points and four shots.
By then, it was over. Crestview ripped off an 18-0 run to start the third quarter to pull out to a 44-23 lead.
Helm said he could sense the frustration in the St. Thomas offense, especially with Hill.
“I could see it a little bit, with the pressure everyone brought when they were on the floor,” Helm said. “Then, we fed off the energy of our fans. That motivated us a little bit more. Our energy got us going again.
“Everyone had a job to do, defensively, and we wouldn’t be the great defensive team we are without everyone doing their job.”
Offensively, Helm led the Knights with 20 points, many on the block, but also was 3 of 5 on 3-pointers. He was 6 of 12 from the field and 5 of 7 from the line.
“We knew coming in it would be our last game. Why wouldn’t you want to play your best?” Helm said. “I tried to go out there, have fun.”
It marked the second trip to state for the baseball-playing Knights, like Helm, who was the starting pitcher last spring for the Knights who reached the state semifinals.
Crestview lost to Newark Catholic in the state baseball semifinals. Cam Etzler started in center field, while Isaiah Simerman started at third base.
“All us baseball guys, we knew what that defeat was like last year against Newark Catholic,” Helm said. “We hadn’t forgotten about that. But with these guys we had something special, and we had the potential to get the job done. We won 28 games coming in, so why not win one more? We did what we needed to do to get the job done.”
Crestview point guard Cam Etzler’s great uncle is the Hall of Fame former coach Ray Etzler. Cam Etzler had five points and four assists.
“This just isn’t a state championship for us (the Etzlers), it’s a championship for anyone who’s played within the system that’s established such a great name for Crestview basketball,” Etzler said.
Helm and teammates Tyson Bolenbaugh and Connor Lautzenheiser shared the most outstanding player award on the Associated Press Division IV state all-tournament team.