ELIDA — The sequel was nothing like the original.
Crestview rolled to a 65-35 win over Columbus Grove on Saturday night in the Division IV girls basketball regional championship game at the Elida Fieldhouse to earn a trip to the state basketball tournament.
Crestview (23-3) will play Fort Loramie at 11 a.m. Thursday in a Division IV state semifinal game at the University of Dayton Arena.
When Crestview and Columbus Grove met during the regular season in December, Crestview had to come from behind to win by three points.
The only time Saturday night’s game was that close was in the first minute or two of the first quarter.
Freshman Cali Gregory scored 24 points, including four 3-pointers, to lead the Knights’ offense. Myia Etzler, also a freshman, had 12 points and 16 rebounds. Laci McCoy had 11 points and 10 rebounds and Olivia Cunningham scored 11 points.
Defensively, Crestview held Columbus Grove to 26 percent shooting (14 of 53) on field goals.
“We just hit shots we needed to hit. I just thought our kids executed our game plan perfectly on the offensive end and the defensive end,” Crestview coach Mark Gregory said.
“Part of our defensive strategy was, ‘Let’s get the kids to shoot threes that we want to shoot threes instead of the ones they want to shoot threes. We had to stop 21 (Kenzie King) and 10 (Erin Downing). They’re great players. Let’s make those other kids beat us,” he said.
Cali Gregory hit 7 of 10 shots in the first half, including 4 of 5 from behind the 3-point line, when Crestview jumped out to a 33-16 lead after two quarters.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve shot like that. I was due,” she said. “When I was open, I just took it.”
Mark Gregory said, “Cali has struggled the last few games, she’s had a rib injury. She’s just a gamer, she has stepped up for us in big games all year and tonight was another one of those. Her whole first half was huge for us.”
King led Columbus Grove (19-8) with 14 points and Jaylen Sautter had 13 points.
Columbus Grove coach Brian Schroeder said, “They shot the ball really well in the first half. They’re a really good team and we didn’t do a good enough job of contesting their shooters and I didn’t do a good enough job of putting together a game plan for them.
“They just killed us on the boards. Etzler and McCoy, we couldn’t keep them off the boards. I think they doubled us in rebounds.” Etzler and McCoy led Crestview to a 44-19 rebounds edge.
Schroeder also pointed to the experience Crestview’s two freshman starters, Gregory and Etzler, acquired over the course of the season as a difference in the game.
“They were really good at the beginning of the season but you could tell they’d had a season under their belts tonight,” he said.
Mark Gregory said, “Both teams have improved. Our group has really gotten better over the season.”
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414.