ELIDA — Crestview knew it had a tough challenge Thursday night when it faced Toledo Christian.
Toledo Christian not only had a very solid team, but also had a 2,000-point career scorer in Madison Royal-Davis.
On Thursday, Crestview clamped down, defensively, and held the Butler University-bound Royal-Davis to just nine points, en route to a 54-41 victory over Toledo Christian in a girls Division IV regional semifinal basketball game at the Elida Fieldhouse.
It will be an all-Northwest Conference showdown Saturday for the regional title. Crestview (22-3) will take on Columbus Grove (19-7) Saturday for a regional title at the Elida Fieldhouse. Tip-off is set for 7:30.
In Thursday’s nightcap, Columbus Grove came from behind to defeat Buckeye Central, 47-38.
In Thursday’s first game, Olivia Cunningham led Crestview with 19 points, including two 3-pointers. Cunningham also had seven rebounds and three steals. Bailey Gregory poured in 16 points, including four 3-pointers. Freshman Cali Gregory, Bailey’s sister, scored nine points on three 3-pointers. Cali Gregory also dished out eight assists for Crestview.
Cat Jones led Toledo Christian (13-6) with 17 points. Mackenzie Royal-Davis, Madison’s sister, scored 10 points and pulled down 14 rebounds.
With a little more than three minutes left to play in the first quarter, Crestview claimed its first lead on the night. An old-fashion 3-point play by Laci McCoy (seven points) gave the Knights a 7-6 lead.
The Knights never trailed after that.
“I think the first quarter was so big. … We did a great job,” Crestview head coach Mark Gregory said. “They (Toledo Christian) had several possessions and took a lot of time off the clock. Then we got a rebound, pushed it up the floor and got a nice shot down there. I thought that was the key – to get the game started off that way.”
The play that jump-started the Knights was a 3-pointer by one of Coach Gregory’s daughters.
With three minutes left in the first quarter, Bailey Gregory nailed a 3-pointer to push the Crestview lead to 10-6.
Bailey Gregory was just getting warmed up.
Less than a minute left in the first stanza, Gregory connected once more behind the 3-point line to extend it to 13-9
The Knights snuck out with a 13-11 lead at the first stop.
Crestview extended its lead to 29-16 by the halftime break.
“I told the girls that it was going to be huge to get a quick start, and that’s what we did,” Coach Gregory said.
Cali Gregory and Cunningham each had a 3-pointer in the final minute of the first half to help push the Knights out to the 13-point lead at the break.
Cunningham poured in 12 first-half points, including nine in the second quarter.
Toledo Christian was just 2 of 12 shooting from the floor in the second.
Madison Royal-Davis scored just two points in the first half.
The Eagles shot just 27 percent from the field in the first 16 minutes.
But Toledo Christian found its range in the third quarter.
With 2:23 left to play in the third, Madison Royal-Davis scored inside and was fouled. Royal-Davis made the free throw and cut the deficit to 7, 35-28.
By the end of the third quarter, Crestview’s lead had shrunk to 3, 35-32. The Eagles outscored the Knights in the third, 16-6.
However, Crestview started to get some separation in the fourth.
Two 3-pointers by Cali Gregory and one by Bailey Gregory, helped push the lead to 9, 47-38, with 3:34 left to play in the game.
With 2:20 left to play, Bailey Gregory hit another trey to push the Crestview lead to 50-39.
“I thought in the fourth quarter, we had some big shots,” Coach Gregory said. “In the third quarter, we were struggling. They ramped up their intensity, and we struggled to put the ball in the basket. I thought that was huge for us in the fourth quarter – to get those buckets and get that lead back up where we had it.”
For the game, Crestview shot 37 percent from the field. Toledo Christian connected on just 27 percent of its field goal attempts.
Crestview committed 10 turnovers, while Toledo Christian turned the ball over nine times.
Toledo Christian held the slight edge on the boards, 41-37.
Laci McCoy led the Knights with 15 boards.
“What can you say about Laci McCoy, having 15 rebounds?” Coach Gregory said about the 5-foot-9 sophomore. “That was huge; and it wasn’t an easy night for her. It was tough to box those girls out. … They’re so athletic and so aggressive. I was just proud of our girls for working so hard tonight. Our communication was so fantastic.”
Columbus Grove 47, Buckeye Central 38
Columbus Grove held Buckeye Central to just 12 points in the second half, en route to a nine-point victory over Buckeye Central.
Erin Downing led Grove (19-7) with 18 points and 12 rebounds. Teammate Kenzie King had 15 points.
Claudia Pifher led Buckeye Central (23-3) with 15 points.
Buckeye Central did not trail until the fourth quarter.
Buckeye Central led 9-6 at the end of the first quarter. Downing scored all of her team’s six first-quarter points.
Buckeye Central pushed its lead to 26-18 by the halftime break.
Downing led Grove in the first half with nine points and seven boards
The Bulldogs battled back in the second half.
With 3:36 left to play in the third quarter, Downing hit an inside shot to cut the deficit to 5, 29-24.
Moments later, Jaylen Sautter hit one of two free throw attempts to cut the deficit to 4, 29-25.
Then with 1:58 left to play in the third, Downing scored down low to cut it to 2, 29-27. That two-point lead for Buckeye Central held up to the end of the third stanza.
The Bulldogs got it going in the final stanza, as they outscored Buckeye Central 20-9 in the fourth.
Grove shot 39 percent from the field, while Buckeye Central connected on 36 percent of its field goal attempts.
Grove won the boards, 30-19.
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.