CONVOY — Delphos Jefferson got the start it wanted.
The Wildcats led the entire first quarter against Crestview.
Then, Crestview freshman Cali Gregory came into the picture.
Gregory poured in 25 points, including five 3-pointers to help lead Crestview to a hard-fought 54-44 victory over visiting Delphos Jefferson in a key Northwest Conference girls basketball matchup at Ray Etzler Gymnasium on Thursday night.
Delphos Jefferson came into Thursday’s game, the only undefeated team in the NWC.
With Thursday’s loss, Delphos Jefferson slips to 12-3 overall and 3-1 in the NWC. Crestview improves to 10-1 overall and 4-1 in conference play.
Gregory, a 5-foot, 8-inch guard, also came away with four rebounds and three assists. Teammate Olivia Cunningham scored 14 points, including three 3-pointers. Cunningham also pulled down five boards.
Another freshman for Crestview, Myia Etzler (6-foot, forward) had nine points, four rebounds and two blocks.
“I thought our two freshmen (Gregory and Etzler) really stepped up and played big, tonight,” Crestview head coach Mark Gregory said. “They’re not playing like freshmen anymore. I was proud of them, tonight.”
Cali Gregory and senior Bailey Gregory (two points, four boards) are Coach Gregory’s daughters.
“I’m just so proud of our overall effort,” Coach Gregory said. “It was just tremendous, tonight. The start wasn’t exactly what we wanted, but give credit to Delphos Jefferson for knocking down shots.
“We took their blows early. I was really proud of our kids on coming back, because there are times when you don’t know how they are going to react after something like that. They got smacked in the face, and came back and made a run of our own.”
Alyvia Lindeman led Delphos Jefferson with 15 points, including three 3-pointers. Her sister, Alycia Lindeman, had nine points and four assists. Josie McGue added seven points for the Wildcats.
Delphos Jefferson jumped out early.
Alyvia Lindeman hit two 3-pointers and teammate Kaylee Buzard (five points, six boards) nailed a shot behind the 3-point line to jump-start the Wildcats.
Delphos Jefferson pushed out to a 17-12 lead by the end of the first quarter.
The Wildcats were 6 of 11 shooting from the field in the first eight minutes of action.
After struggling early on, the Knights ended the first stanza, 5 of 10 from the floor.
Alyvia Lindeman led Jefferson with 10 first-quarter points.
Crestview came roaring back.
With 3:28 left to play in the first half, Cali Gregory scored inside to cut the deficit to 2, 23-21.
Then, with 2:18 left to play in the half, Etzler scored inside and was fouled. Etzler completed the old-fashion 3-point play at the free throw line, to give the Knights their first lead of the night, 24-23.
The Knights were just warming up.
With 1:29 left until halftime, Gregory nailed a trey to give Crestview a 27-25 lead.
Then moments later, Gregory hit another 3-pointer to push the Crestview advantage to 5, 30-25.
The Knights went into the halftime break with the 5-point lead.
Gregory scored 16 points in the first half, including 11 second-quarter points. The freshman guard nailed four shots behind the 3-point line in the first half.
Crestview led 39-34 by the end of the third quarter.
Jefferson did not go away.
A little more than a minute into the fourth quarter, Jefferson cut it to 2, 39-37 on a 3-pointer by McGue.
However, down the stretch, the Knights were able to stave off Jefferson for the big win.
For the game, Crestview shot 43 percent from the field. Delphos Jefferson connected on 46 percent of its field goal attempts.
Both teams took care of the basketball.
On the night, Crestview committed six turnovers. Delphos Jefferson turned it over eight times.
Crestview held a slight edge on the boards, 29-23.
Coach Gregory said his team has several players who are quite capable of making big plays.
“That’s how it has been all season long. We have three or four girls that at any time can step up for us,” he said.
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.