DELPHOS — Basketball coaches always preach how important it is to start off the second half on a strong note.
Friday’s non-conference boys’ basketball game between Delphos St. John’s and visiting Crestview was a prime example.
St. John’s kept it close in the first two quarters of action.
But in the second half, St. John’s came out ice cold from the field, while Crestview hit some big shots and controlled the boards, en route to a 61-49 victory over St. John’s at Robert A. Arnzen Gymnasium.
With the win, Crestview improves to 6-1. St. John’s slips to 6-2.
Jared Wurst led St. John’s and all scorers with 20 points, including four 3-pointers.
Javin Etzler, a 6-foot-7 senior, led Crestview with 16 points, including 6 of 7 shooting from the free throw line in the fourth quarter. The Miami (Ohio)-bound Etzler also pulled down five rebounds. Derick Dealey poured in 14 points, including four treys. Drew Kline had 11 points and four assists at his point-guard position. Wade Sheets added 10 points, seven boards and four assists. Kalen Etzler (6-8, sophomore), the younger brother of Javin, had eight points, seven rebounds and two blocks for the Knights.
After St. John’s went into the halftime break down 6, 31-25, the Blue Jays came out in the second half and went cold from the field. The Blue Jays were just 1 of 10 shooting from the floor.
By the end of the third quarter, Crestview’s lead ballooned to 45-30.
“The start of the half is always important, especially when they hit a three at the end (of the first half) and stretched it from three to six,” St. John’s coach Aaron Elwer said. “They kind of picked up right where they left off. We got off to a sluggish start. It was just too big of a lead to give to that good of a team, and then try to crawl back.”
For the game, Crestview shot 47 percent from the floor. St. John’s shot 36 percent.
The Knights controlled the boards, 33-23.
“We were kind of struggling and looking around, offensively,” Crestview coach Jeremy Best said. “We weren’t getting the job done at the defensive end in the last couple games. … We were trying to get steals and make too many plays without being solid. I thought that tonight, we were solid. It was a good, physical high school basketball game. We got a little squirrely there toward the end, but that’s a lot of credit to St. John’s, and who they are.”
The game was knotted four times in the first quarter, before Crestview slipped out with a 12-9 lead by the first stop. In the closing moments of the first stanza, Kline made a strong move inside and was fouled. Kline then converted on the 3-point play to give the Knights the three-point advantage.
Sheets led the way for the Knights with six first-quarter points.
The Knights pushed out to a 17-12 lead within the first three minutes of the second quarter. Kalen Etzler and Kline each made a shot inside the paint for Crestview. Kalen Etzler went on to score six points in the second quarter.
The Blue Jays battled back, cutting the deficit to two, twice.
However, Crestview pushed out to a 31-25 lead by the halftime break. Dealey nailed three 3-pointers in the second quarter to ignite the Knights. Both Dealey and Kline scored nine first-half points for Crestview.
Wurst kept St. John’s close, scoring nine first-half points.
Crestview was 12 of 24 shooting from the floor in the first half for 50 percent. St. John’s connected on 7 of 18 from the floor for 39 percent.
“Derick (Dealey) has been struggling a little bit,” Best said. “He can shoot it. He’s a guy who can knock down shots. It was good to see the ball go through for him.”
The Knights opened the third quarter with a 7-0 run, extending their lead to 38-25, just a little more than a minute into it.
Dealey’s fourth trey of the contest ignited Crestview’s run.
The Knights extended their lead to 14, 43-29 with less than three minutes left to play in the third quarter, thanks to a deep 3-pointer by Javin Etzler.
But St. John’s regrouped.
With 1:40 left to play in the game, St. John’s cut it to 7, 53-46, on a fast-break basket off a steal by Curtis Schwinnen (four points).
However, the Knights got to the free throw line often in the final minute to put the game away.
Crestview was 8 of 10 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter. St. John’s was 1 of 1 from the charity stripe in the final eight minutes of action.
On the night, St. John’s turned the ball over 11 times, while Crestview turned it over 13 times.
Best was pleased at both his team’s approach and defensive effort Friday night.
“That was the key,” Best said. “That was something we talked about when we came back after Christmas break – the right mentality on the defensive end is going to create some better things for us on the offensive end.
“I was particularly pleased with our mental approach. I was really pleased with Javin Etzler’s all-around effort tonight. He played his tail off, as all our guys did.
But he affected the game early. He wasn’t even putting points on the board; and that’s a huge step for him. I’m very proud of him for that.”