LIMA— Crestview coach Greg Rickard rode the peaks and valleys through two overtime periods.
“There were about four times when I thought we had it won, and about four times when I thought we lost it,” Rickard said.
Rickard’s words Crestview were likely echoed by any coach, player or fan in attendance.
Crestview defeated Kalida 53-47 after two overtime periods in the Division IV district semifinals at Lima Senior. The Knights advance to the district finals for the first time since 2009.
The drama got started in the final minute of the game. Down 40-37 with 44 seconds left, Kalida got a quick layup to cut the lead to one. Following that play, the Wildcats’ Jackie Gardner stole the inbound pass and scored another easy layup to put Kalida suddenly in the driver’s seat, up 41-40 with just 16 seconds left.
Then it was Crestview’s turn to change the game. Down 43-40 with five seconds left, Mackenzie Riggenbach drove the length of the court and drew a foul behind the arc, putting her at the charity stripe with three shot opportunities.
The sophomore swished all three, and the game was sent to overtime.
“There’s a lot of pressure there,” Rickard said. “She’s our best free throw shooter, so we knew she could do it. You can’t get more pressure than a chance to tie the game in a district tournament game, and she ended up knocking down all three shots. It was very impressive.”
Overtime was a defensive struggle, starting with Kalida having possession of the ball for the first minute of the period. The lengthy possession resulted in no points, a trend that continued until the buzzer sounded. Both teams mustered just two points in the first overtime, forcing the contest to press on.
In the second overtime, it was again Riggenbach coming up with the clutch shot. With the game tied at 47 and 35 seconds left, Riggenbach pulled up from the corner and drained a 3-pointer. Kalida never came up with another basket in the final seconds.
Riggenbach said that the free throw conversion at the end of regulation was something that she had to do for her teammates.
“We had worked too hard up to that point to have us lose on missed free throws,” Riggenbach said. “I was a little nervous, but I knew that I had to make them for my teammates, and that’s what I went and did.”
Riggenbach also delivered two more free throws at the end of the second overtime period to put the game away. Of her game-high 15 points, nine came from free throws.
Emily Bauer also finished the game with 15 points for Crestview, while Terra Crowle hit three 3-pointers to finish with 10 points. The Knights also got two 3’s out of Kennis Mercer, who finished with a eight points. Lindsay Motycka had a game-high 11 rebounds for Crestview.
Kalida coach Adam Huber praised his defense for playing their best basketball for all five quarters of the game.
“We’ve been playing some of our best defense lately,” Huber said. “Tonight we just didn’t get enough stops. Crestview’s got a lot of skilled players that, if you lose them for a second, they’re going to make you pay. We knew the game was going to be like this and go down to the wire, and I’m just really proud of everybody.”
Ottoville 62, Lincolnview 27
Game 2 of Thursday night featured another game totally controlled by Ottoville, as the Big Green defeated Lincolnview. Ottoville will face Crestview in the district final game on Saturday at 7:00pm.
Lincolnview had a hot start, getting two 3-pointers from Claire Dye in the first quarter and earning what was at one point a 12-8 lead. Ottoville gained a one point lead by the end of the opening frame, however, and never looked back. Over the next two quarters, Ottoville would outscore Lincolnview 36-5.
“After the first quarter, we started to get the ball inside where it needed to be and got a lot of easy shots for our guards,” Ottoville coach David Kleman said. “We didn’t execute very well, but Lincolnview did a good job of coming out and working according to their game plan. But I thought that we adjusted really well on defense tonight.”
Abby Siefker finished the game with a double-double, with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Taylor Mangas had 10 points, including two 3’s, and Rachel Beining added eight points.