It was all tied up at halftime but that didn’t last long once the second half started.
Crestview took control of its non-league boys basketball game against Lima Central Catholic in the first minute of the third quarter and never looked back on its way to a 54-42 win on Thursday night at LCC.
The two teams had been tied six times in the second quarter, but after the Knights’ leading scorer, 6-foot, 7-inch senior Javin Etzler, hit back-to-back 3-pointers to start the third quarter to break a 24-24 halftime tie, it was a different game.
In fact, the story of the game might have been told right there, LCC coach Frank Kill said.
“The first two minutes of the third quarter were the ball game,” Kill said. “We came out defensively flat and we left the best player on the floor wide open. You’re in a battle with maybe the best team in our region and we leave potentially the Player of the Year in our district wide open.”
LCC also had some significant offensive struggles in the second half and they lasted much longer than just the first minute or two of the half. The Thunderbirds hit only one of their first 16 shots in the second half and shot 27 percent on field goals in the game.
Javin Etzler scored 17 points and pulled down nine rebounds for Crestview (13-1). Kalen Etzler, a 6-8 sophomore, had 11 points and nine rebounds and Derrick Dealey scored 10 points. Biggz Johnson led LCC (8-8) with 17 points.
Crestview’s win was its eleventh in a row since a two-point loss to Bluffton on Dec. 14 in its third game of the season.
The Knights coach Jeremy Best said they are starting to see improvement. “There have been a lot of things in these games over the last three weeks where we’re better than we were a few weeks ago,” he said.
Best said Crestview did a good job of adjusting to the physicality of Thursday night’s game.
“Javin came out and hit a couple of shots. We worked through some lulls. When it’s that physical it’s hard to find a rhythm but we found enough at the right times,” he said.
“I was real pleased with the way we handled the physicality and flow of the game. “The thing I was most proud of was we adjusted to that on the mental side.
“There are going to be situations where our guys are going to have to battle through that because teams are going to do that to try to eliminate some of our size and some of our skill,” he said.
LCC stayed with Lima Senior until the final two minutes of a 68-60 loss on Tuesday night and followed that up by with two strong quarters against Crestview.
“We’re getting better. For 30 minutes (of the game) we were right there with them,” Kill said about Crestview.
“The teams that have beaten us have beaten us with length. When 6-8 and 6-7 are hanging around the rim blocking every lay-up it’s really frustrating. I give our guys a lot of credit for continuing to fight and continuing to go at them. They were around every shot and deflecting passes,” he said.
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414.