ELIDA — Dec. 27th seems like such a long time ago.
That evening Ottoville beat Crestview 52-48, dropping the Knights to 4-3 on the season; Crestview hasn’t lost since.
The Knights ran their winning streak to 17 games Tuesday night in Division IV district semifinal action at the Fieldhouse with a 72-67 double overtime thriller win against the Big Green.
The game was physical, it was emotional, it was back and forth, yet the Knights found a will and a way to grab the victory.
“It might have been the best game I have ever been a part of, either as a coach or as a player.” said Ottoville coach Keith Utendorf after the game.
Crestview jumped out to a quick 11-3 lead after one period of play and went up 15-3 when they scored the first two buckets of the second quarter. Ottoville dug deep and slowly worked their way back into the game and were with-in 23-18 at the half.
Javin Etzler hit two early point baskets to get the attention of the Big Green defense so the Knights went inside to Derek Stout in the second period and he responded with 10 points in the quarter.
The Knights went ahead again by seven points after three quarters of play with the score 36-29 going to the fourth quarter.
Senior Ryan Bendele stepped up big-time for the Big Green in that fourth quarter as he scored 13 points to send the game to overtime knotted at 48 each.
“Bendele can really get hot and he did; he kept us afloat in the game.” Utendorf said.
The first overtime saw Ottoville jump ahead before Crestview hit two late 3-pointers; the first from freshman Kalen Etzler and the second with 12 seconds left from Drew Kline to send the game to a second overtime knotted at 60 each.
The Knights jumped ahead 66-64 and then made 8-of-12 free throws down the stretch to claim the win and improve to 21-3 on the season.
The Big Green end their year at 18-6.
“We make mistakes but our competitive spirit came through.” a spent Crestview coach Jeremy Best said. “We were close to being dead in the water but hit a couple of big shots. We are tired but will be ready to play Friday.”
The Knights were led in scoring by Javin Etzler with a game high 24-point effort. Stout finished with 14 points and Kline added 12 for Crestview.
“I told the kids, especially our six seniors, how proud of them I am.” Utendorf said. “It is a testament to the kids that they kept coming back; I’m so proud of how they handled adversity. Both teams deserved to win but, unfortunately, only one can.”
Ottoville got a 21-point performance from Bendele in the contest. Freshman Josh Thorbahn chipped in with 17 and Nick Moorman ended the game with 11 points.
The Knights will play for a district title and the right to move on to the Bowling Regional when they face Hicksville (20-5), a 54-41 winner against Wayne Trace (15-8), at 7 p.m. Friday at the Elida Fieldhouse.
The Lima News sports department can be reached at 567-242-0451.
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