BLUFFTON – Crestview has come a long way since earlier in the year.
On Wednesday the Knights pounded the boards and leaned heavily on their inside game.
The Knights went deep inside to post a 64-55 victory over Leipsic in the Division IV boys basketball sectional opener Wednesday at Bluffton University.
Kalen Etzler led the Knights with 22 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks.
Inside-power man Carson Kreischer had 18 points and 10 rebounds.
“We did a good job preparing, being physical and banging around,” Kreischer said. “But we have to clean some stuff up to get ready for St. John’s.’’
J.J. Ward added 11 points and nine rebounds for the Knights.
Mason Brandt had 20 points and four 3-pointers for the Vikings.
Drew Liffick had 11 points.
Crestview (12-11) advances to the sectional finals to meet Delphos St. John’s at 6 p.m. Friday at Bluffton University.
Leipsic finishes the year 11-12.
In the second sectional opener of the night, Ada held off Fort Jennings 62-55.
The Knights started the year 2-7 with Etzler being the lone returning starter.
But Crestview ended the regular season winning seven of its last nine.
That momentum seemed to carry over to start the game.
The Knights led 18-8 early and led 20-15 after the first quarter.
“I think a lot of it is just being more comfortable playing with each other,” Crestview coach Doug Etzler said. “Tonight was a different style (we played against). We haven’t been trapped like that since Bluffton in
the first part of the year. We knew they were going to go with a man press, but just didn’t handle it well.’’
In the second half, it was 6-foot-8 Etzler who was used to bring the ball up the floor, along with Ward.
By halftime Crestview had a 31-23 lead.
“I was really impressed the way we started the game and shot well,” coach Etzler said.
The key for Leipsic was its man press. The Vikings rolled out their man press in the second quarter and jacked it up three notches in the second half.
The result was Leipsic was close the entire way, as it forced Crestview into 18 turnovers for the game.
Not only was Leipsic getting turnovers it was hitting 3-pointers at the other end.
Leipsic went on an 11-4 run to close the third quarter to end the third down only 43-41.
During that run, Brandt hit two 3-pointers and Trey Schroeder hit one.
“He (Brandt) shot the ball extremely well,” coach Etzler said. “They had three guards who could shoot it and had three guards who could get to the paint.’’
Crestview started the final quarter on an 8-0 run to pull out to a 51-41 lead with 5:23 left.
Leipsic came back and got within 51-49 until Crestview’s Nathan Lichtle hit a three to make it 55-49.
Etzler then hit a layup, a driving layup and two foul shots to push the Knights’ lead to 61-55 with 48 seconds to go.
Crestview dominated the boards, 41-26.
“That was big,” Kreischer said. “It was a close game so every little thing matters.’’
Etzler had 10 points by the half with two 3-pointers and two slams.
Meanwhile, Kreischer was working well in the paint with eight points and five boards by halftime.
“Carson (Kreischer) has been big for us down the stretch,” coach Etzler said. “He’s been crafty down there. He takes his time and gets to where he wants to get and he finishes inside. He did another great job of that tonight. And J.J. (Ward) plays with a lot of confidence and he’s not going to be afraid of the moment.’’
Brandt had nine points for the Vikings at the half.
Fort Jennings 55
Ada’s Brandon Hall scored 21 points, including seven in the final quarter to help Ada post the victory.
Phil Coulson added 19 points, with 15 coming in the first half for the Bulldogs.
Ada (10-13) advances to the sectional finals to meet Columbus Grove at 8 p.m. Friday at Bluffton University.
Fort Jennings ends its year 3-20.
All the way back on Nov. 30, Ada knocked off Fort Jennings 61-55.
This was a much similar game.
Ada led 18-10 after the first quarter and 32-25 at the half.
Fort Jennings’ Carson Kazee hit back-to-back 3-pointers early in the fourth quarter to get the Musketeers within 47-45.
Hall answered with a 3-pointer to push the margin to 50-45 with 5:01 to go.
Nick Trentman led Fort Jennings with 19 points.
Kazee ad Evan Hoersten both scored 12.
Coulson had 15 points at the half, while Hall had 14.