COLUMBUS GROVE — Crestview wasn’t in a sharing mood.
And it showed.
Crestview went out strong early and cruised home to a 73-47 victory to win the outright Northwest Conference boys basketball championship Friday at Columbus Grove.
“It feels good,” Crestview coach Jeremy Best said. “We didn’t want to share it (the NWC) at all. … I’m proud of their effort.’’
Crestview’s Derek Stout led the way with 19 points and five rebounds.
Knights point guard Drew Kline had 14 points, five rebounds and six assists.
“This is my first NWC championship in my high school career and it’s special,” Kline said. “There’s nothing like it. You fight so hard, day in and day out for this. It’s fun.’’
Wade Sheets had 10 points and five rebounds. Javin Etzler, who was in early foul trouble, had 10 points and five rebounds.
Freshman Kalen Etzler was playing his third game after missing six weeks with an injury. He had 10 points.
It marks Crestview’s 17th NWC title and first since 2014.
Crestview, which has won 15 straight, is 19-3, 8-0 in the NWC. Columbus Grove is 9-13, 4-4 in the NWC.
The Knights stood 4-3 two days after Christmas. A number of players got a late start after making a run in the football playoffs.
Football wasn’t the team’s only issue, however.
“We didn’t have chemistry. It just wasn’t clicking,” Kline said. “The coaches told us, ‘You guys are better than this.’ … And once guys figured out if we play as a team, I don’t think anyone can play with us. I know we were humbled in the beginning and we couldn’t go any lower than that. But we found our roles and we did our jobs.’’
Cody Johnson had nine points and six rebounds for Columbus Grove.
Grove freshman Blake Reynolds had nine points and eight rebounds.
Crestview entered Friday with at least a share of the NWC title.
The Knights ran out to an early 14-7 lead.
The defense took hold and the lead went to 22-9. The Knights led 24-13 after the first quarter.
Javin Etzler went to the bench with two fouls at the 4:01 mark of the first quarter.
Helping take over the scoring load were Kline and Stout.
Stout had 12 first-half points, mostly on power moves inside.
Kline had 12 points in the second quarter, including five drives to the basket.
“When guys aren’t out there on the court and you don’t have everyone at full strength, someone has to step up,” Kline said. “I knew the NWC championship was on the line. We wanted it bad. … It’s all about the mentality.’’
Added Best, “He’s our leader.’’
Crestview won the boards 31-27.
With the NWC title behind them, the Knights are looking forward to the tournament.
“You only have one chance in the tournament,” Best said. “But I like our focus.’’
The Lima News sports department can be reached at 567-242-0451.