COLUMBUS GROVE — Crestview has won games this year with some fast starts but the Knights needed a big finish to hold off Columbus Grove, 37-34, in a Northwest Conference clash Thursday night.
With the win, Crestview improves to 4-1 on the season and evens its NWC record to 1-1. Columbus Grove falls to 3-3 on the year and dips to 1-1.
“Every game so far we have had a great start and this game was the opposite,” Crestview head coach Mark Gregory said. “We couldn’t throw it in the ocean early.”
But it was a defensive change that turned the tide for the Knights when Gregory decided to go to the 1-3-1 midway through the second quarter and that proved to be effective.
“The 1-3-1 was definitely a game changer,” Columbus Grove head coach Brian Schroeder said. “They were able to generate some turnovers and we never got real comfortable in it and we weren’t really looking to attack it. I told them that was on us.”
Going into the final eight minutes, Columbus Grove held a slim 26-22 lead and as both teams struggled to score points in the first three quarters.
But Crestview found its touch from the behind the 3-point line as the Knights hit a trio of treys, one from Cali Gregory and two from Olivia Cunningham, to open the fourth quarter to jump out to a 31-26 advantage and then opened up a nine point advantage when Myia Etzler and Bailey Gregory added buckets to extend the lead to 35-26.
Despite the quick run, Columbus Grove looked to come back and a 3-pointer from Kenzie King followed by two points on a a steal sliced the lead to four, 35-31 with less than 30 seconds left in the contest.
Columbus Grove got to within three, 37-34 when King banked in her second trey of the quarter and then the Bulldogs forced a turnover over with 8.9 seconds to give them one final chance to knot the score. However, King’s two attempts at 3-pointers failed to go in and the Knights escaped with the win.
The Knights’ switch to the 1-3-1 stalled the Bulldogs’ offense to a near standstill. Leading 22-10 with 4:15 in the second quarter, Columbus Grove did not record another point until the 4:11 mark of the third quarter.
Another Bulldog scoring drought came in the fourth quarter when the Bulldogs did not record a single point until the 1:03 mark of the fourth quarter.
Credit Columbus Grove’s defense for keeping up in the game as they also put in a solid performance in the third quarter, allowing only four Crestview points in the third quarter.
For the game Crestview’s Olivia Cunningham led the team with 11 points.
Coach Gregory said he got a lot of contributions from a number of girls and pointed to the effort of freshman Etzler who came off the bench and scored eight points and was effective on the defensive end with four blocked shots and she grabbed five rebounds.
“We got a lot of youth with our elder state’s men and I think Miya Etzler really grew tonight,” Gregory said. “I am proud of the growth of seen from her in the last couple of games. She defends the paint extremely well and that is what we needed tonight.”
King finished the game with 13 points but scored eight of those in the final minute of the game. Erin Downing, the lone Bulldog senior, finished with 10 points and she also recorded seven caroms.
“We did a nice job on her until the fourth quarter and then she does what good players do,” Mark Gregory said. ““I am just proud of our team effort, We’ve played pretty well in this last stretch and we have different girls stepping up. I think of so many times defensively we’ve got stops and making them take tough shots.”
Reach Jose Nogueras at 567-242-0468.