DELPHOS — It was a small disadvantage for Delphos St. John’s entering the contest. The Blue Jays were playing their season opener against a Crestview squad that had played — and won — twice already.
That small disadvantage just may have been the difference.
Crestview knocked off Delphos St. John’s 42-36 on Friday, after trailing following each of the first three quarters.
“They’ve got experience versus our inexperience,” St. John’s coach Aaron Elwer said. “I think it’s a huge difference anytime you have two opportunities before playing someone on their first night. Unfortunately, we had a couple of opportunities late and just couldn’t get the job done.”
Defense controlled this game from start to finish, with no single player breaking out on either side for the first three quarters of the game. In the fourth quarter, defense relinquished control of the game to Crestview junior Cam Etzler, who scored 11 of his game-high 21 points in the final period. In addition to his own scoring, his pacing of the Knights’ offense from the point guard position was a crucial part to every crunch-time possession they had.
Crestview’s defense remained strong throughout the fourth quarter.
“Our entire team works the ball around really well,” Etzler said. “It helps everyone get better angles and better shots. It’s always big to get a win here at the Vatican since we’ve struggled here in the past.”
Etzler shot 7-for-15 from the field and was perfect on six free throw attempts.
“He was a leader for us,” Crestview head coach Jeremy Best said. “The fourth quarter is a time to develop leaders, and that’s what he was tonight. It’s good for him and it’s good for this team.”
The game was very physical on both sides, as both defenses did exceptionally well at defending inside shots and forcing players to shoot from places that may have been outside their range.
Crestview outrebounded Delphos St. John’s 24-19.
“We were able to defend very well,” Best said. “We limited (Curtis) Geise to eight free throws and zero field goals, and that was huge. We know he’s a great player, and I thought we did a great job defending him. We got beat up a little, but we played through it and I think this game goes a long way in our development.”
Ryan Buescher connected on four of six shots to lead the Blue Jays with nine points, while Geise shot a perfect 8-for-8 on free throw attempts to account for all of his points. Damian Helm shot three 3-pointers for Crestview to finish with nine points.