BLUFFTON — Bluffton head coach Todd Boblitt knows league titles are not won in one night or after just one conference game but he does understand that the Pirates took a major step towards competing for the Northwest Conference crown after holding off Crestview 43-41 Friday night.
With the win Bluffton remains unbeaten on the season at 3-0. Crestview slips to 2-1.
“It is early but this is a tremendous win for our guys,” Boblitt said. “I thought we really competed hard on both ends of the floor. They (Crestview) are a really, really good team with a couple of special players and our guys competed like crazy.”
Boblitt added that he thought his team’s ability to battle on the boards was one of the main factors in securing the win.
“We knew we were going to be undersized coming in and we were going to have to battle and control the backboard and we did and I thought that was the key to the game,” Boblitt said. “ Right now I could not be prouder of our entire group,”
Bluffton’s clamp down defense, especially on Kalen and Javin Etzler, was a big part in beating the Knights.
Bluffton’s Baylor Garmatter, all 5-foot-10 of him, had the unenviable task of covering Javin Etzler, all 6-foot-7 of him and despite giving up almost eight inches in height, hounded Etzler like his life depended on him.
“I was just thinking I don’t want him to get the ball so I am little faster than him and used my foot work to get in front of him and not let him get the ball,” said Garmatter, who said the team communicated on the defensive end to help stymie the Crestview offense. “We were talking and calling out screens so I knew when it was coming and so I could get over faster. It was a total team effort.”
Garmatter called this the biggest win of his high school career. Last year, Crestview beat Bluffton 43-25.
In the first three quarters, Javin Etzler managed two points before finding some sort of the rhythm in the fourth and even though he hit his first three shots, two of which were treys, to cut an 11-point Bluffton lead to two at one point, the Crestview sharp shooter missed his final six shots to end a frustrating night.
Boblitt said because of the Knights’ advantage in size the Pirates would have to “play underneath them” and be in their space.
In Crestview’s first two games, the Knights came in averaging 67 points.
Crestview’s Wade Sheets attempted to pick up the slack offensively and finished with 11 points on the night. It was his early scoring that kept Crestview close for the first three quarters. However, Sheets had zero points in the final quarter. Kalen Ezler was limited to seven points.
Crestview head coach Jeremy Best said the team anticipated the defensive looks Bluffton was going to throw at them but the Knights failed to execute.
“We obviously handle really well or coach it pretty so it is a learning experience and we will learn from it,” Best said. “Give Bluffton credit. They played hard and hit shots when they had to. It hurts now but tomorrow the sun will shine.”
Offensively, Bluffton relies on the 3-pointer and the the Pirate precision perimeter shooting accounted for eight treys on the night. The Pirates had four 2-point field goals.
Pirate Luke Denecker, who finished with a game-high 19 points, nailed four three pointers and down the stretch his some clutch free throws to ice the game. A number of his treys were hit from around the 25-foot mark.Denecker also grabbed nine rebounds.
“Luke hit some big shots and he is so skilled and has put a lot of time into this,” Boblitt said. “It is really fun to watch the guys that have gone through the process to see some early success this season.”
Reach Jose Nogueras at 567-242-0468.