CONVOY — Lincolnview and Crestview know each other quite well.
When these two Van Wert County schools get together on the basketball court, it’s a sure bet that it’s going to be a hard-fought battle.
Friday night’s cross-county matchup started out that way.
However, once Crestview senior Kalen Etzler got it going at the offensive end, the Knights started to take control.
Crestview, behind Etzler’s game-high 27 points (including three 3-pointers), pulled away in the second half for a 56-40 victory in a key Northwest Conference boys basketball matchup at Ray Etzler Gymnasium.
Etzler, a 6-foot-8 Ohio State commit, also pulled down a game-high 17 rebounds. In the second half of Friday’s game, Etzler poured in 17 points to help lead the Knights to the big conference win.
Carson Kreischer, a 6-3 senior post player for Crestview (14-4, 5-1 NWC) had 12 points, 11 rebounds, a block, and a steal.
“The first half, we kept in it with our defense,” Crestview head coach Doug Etzler said. “We weren’t very efficient, offensively. But defensively, we kept it close enough. In the second half, we were a little better, offensively. We got the ball to Kalen and he hit some big shots for us.”
Crestview dominated the boards, 40-22.
“Carson (Kreischer) did a great job on the offensive boards,” Coach Etzler said. “He got a couple put backs. We also didn’t let them (Lincolnview) get out in transition. … They’re very good at it.”
Collin Overholt led Lincolnview (12-4, 4-2 NWC) with 13 points and six rebounds. Teammate Clayton Leeth had 10 points and three boards.
The first quarter was tightly-contested.
The lead changed hands eight times and was tied five times in the first eight minutes of action before Crestview finally came away with a slim 16-14 lead by the first stop.
Leeth led the Lancers with five first-quarter points. Etzler led the Knights with six markers.
The remainder of the first half was a see-saw battle as Crestview slipped into the halftime break with a 26-22 advantage.
Etzler led Crestview with 10 first-half points. Etzler also came away with seven rebounds in the first 16 minutes of action. Kreischer chipped in with six points and also was a force on the boards as he came away with seven rebounds and a block.
The Knights were 10 of 27 shooting from the field for 37 percent in the first half. Lincolnview was 10 of 28 from the floor for 36-percent shooting.
Crestview came out of the locker room looking to push the tempo.
By the 5:45 mark of the third, Crestview had extended its lead to 31-24 on a 3-pointer by Etzler.
Then, less than a minute later, JJ Ward (five points, three boards) connected behind the 3-point line to push the Knights’ lead to 10, 34-24.
Etzler started to heat up.
At the 3:20 mark, Etzler dialed long distance from the left wing to make it 37-27, Knights.
Etzler went on to score 13 points in the third on 5 of 7 shooting, including three 3-pointers.
Crestview led 44-32 at the end of the third quarter.
“He’s a heck of a player,” Lincolnview head coach Brett Hammons said about Kalen Etzler. “He made some tough shots, and give him credit for that. But when you get dominated on the boards and you’re giving them so many opportunities, it’s going to make it tough on you.
“I thought our initial defense was good, but you have to finish possessions; and we weren’t very good at all with that tonight.”
For the game, Crestview shot 45 percent from the field. Lincolnview countered with 33-percent shooting from the floor.
Both teams had 11 turnovers on the night.
Coach Etzler said there was a great deal at stake Friday night.
“I told them that we were playing a county rival and we were also playing for a good tournament seed. So, we had to be locked in,” he said.
Added Hammons, “They (the Knights) were putting shots in, and give them credit. We just weren’t ourselves tonight. It seems we say that a lot in big games. We have to figure out a way to win these.”