DAYTON – Crestview battled through some very close games throughout the postseason tournament, en route to making it to Sunday’s boys Division IV state championship basketball game at the University of Dayton Arena.
However, Crestview ran into a buzz saw Sunday, Richmond Heights, the defending Division IV state champion.
Crestview managed to keep it close and slipped into the halftime break, trailing Richmond Heights 31-22.
However, Richmond Heights came out of the locker room, shifted to a much higher gear and pulled away for a convincing 70-26 victory over Crestview to notch its second consecutive state title.
Richmond Heights shut Crestview down in the third quarter, outscoring the Knights 29-0. Crestview scored just four points in the second half.
Richmond Heights ends its season, perfect at 29-0. Crestview finishes its campaign, 25-4.
This was the first state appearance for Crestview since the 2019 season, when the Knights defeated Berlin Hiland for the Division IV state title, 58-38.
Crestview head coach Doug Etzler, a former Crestview and Ohio State standout, reflected on his team’s journey to the state title game after Sunday’s loss.
“The main thing I want my guys to leave here with are the memories they put together on this state tournament run. I have a great group of very unselfish individuals, and they’re hurting right now. I’m proud of them. And I wouldn’t want to be here with any other group,” an emotional Etzler said.
Richmond Heights was led Sunday by 6-foot-5 sophomore Dorian Jones, who scored 25 points, including 7 of 10 shooting from behind the 3-point line. Jeremy Wilson had 12 points on 5 of 9 shooting from the field for the Spartans. Wilson also came away with nine rebounds.
Gavin Etzler led Crestview with seven points.
Richmond Heights started the game on a 7-0 run.
Wren Sheets (two points, three rebounds) broke the ice for the Knights with an inside move to cut it to 7-2, a little more than two minutes into the contest.
A little later, Crestview managed to cut it to 3, 10-7, on a 12-footer by Etzler.
The Spartans led 12-7 at the end of the first quarter.
Jones sparked Richmond Heights with eight first-quarter points. Etzler led the Knights with five points in the first eight minutes.
The Knights cut it to three points, twice in the second quarter.
At the 5:15 mark, Carson Hunter (five points) scored down low to cut it to one point for the Knights, 14-13.
With 4:36 left to play in the half, Crestview’s Nate Lichtle (3 points) hit a 3-pointer to knot the game, 16-16.
However, Jones started to heat up for Richmond Heights.
Jones spearheaded a 15-6 run for the Spartans to close out the half. Mitch Temple (three points, four boards) hit a halfcourt shot for Crestview at the buzzer to cut the deficit to nine points.
Jones scored 16 first-half points, including four 3-pointers on 4 of 6 shooting from behind the 3-point line. Etzler led the Knights with seven first-half points.
Richmond Heights shot 50 percent from the field in the first half, while Crestview connected on 47 percent of its field goal attempts.
Then came the third quarter.
Richmond Heights shut out Crestview, 29-0 in the third, to pull out to a commanding 60-22 advantage by the third stop.
The Knights turned the ball over seven times in the third quarter, after turning it over just seven times in the first half.
“I think the first half, we competed,” Coach Etzler said. “We did a good job of handling their pressure. We hit some shots. Defensively, they (Richmond Heights) hit some shots, but we held them to one (shot each time down the court).
“Going into halftime, we thought we had a little bit of momentum there. … We were pretty juiced up. But this thing really snowballed in the second half and got away from us, quick. … They’re the type of team that does that. You hear about it – that they go on runs. And you try to weather the storm. But they went on a run (third quarter) … Obviously, the third quarter was not good for us.”
After Crestview shot 47 percent from the field in the first half, the Knights struggled in the second half, connecting on just 2 of 16 of their field goal attempts (13 percent). Crestview ended the game, shooting 31 percent from the floor.
Richmond Heights shot 52 percent from the field for the game.
Crestview turned the ball over 18 times on the day, while Richmond Heights committed just four turnovers.
The Spartans won the boards, 29-22.
“They (Richmond Heights) are not a team that we know we can pick up (with) full court pressure,” Etzler said. “They’re very good athletes and very good basketball players.”
Added Richmond Heights head coach Quentin Rogers, “(It was a) competitive game in the first half. We knew they were going to come out. … We did a really good job in the second half of executing the game plan and getting the energy up.”
Etzler said there were a lot of positive things to come away with after Sunday’s loss.
“You’ve got a bunch of elementary-age kids that are coming to everything that we do now, because of what these guys were able to do on the court this year. What they were able to accomplish this year is hard to do,” Etzler said.
“I think if you would have told any of them at the beginning of the year that we would have a chance to play on the last day of the season, everybody would take that. We got the opportunity to realize that, but it didn’t work out the way we wanted it to. But there are a lot of fond memories they are going to have the rest of their lives of having the opportunity to play in this game.”
Gavin Etzler, Coach Etzler’s son, summed up the entire journey to the state championship game in the senior’s final high school game.
“It’s very special,” an emotional Gavin Etzler said.
Etzler will play basketball at Ohio Northern University next school year.
Division IV State Final
Richmond Heights 12 19 29 10 – 70
Crestview 7 15 0 4 – 26
Richmond Heights – De’Erick Barber 9, Demarris Winters, Jr. 9, Jeremy Wilson 12, Dorian Jones 25, Hosea Steele Jr. 8 Michael McWilliams 3, Tyson Garner 2, Sonny Emory 2. Totals: 27-5-70.
Crestview – Gavin Etzler 7, Mitch Temple 3, Carson Hunter 5, Nate Lichtle 3, Jaret Harting 2, Wren Sheets 2, Nasir Easterling 2, Wesyn Ludwig 2. Totals: 11-1-26.
3-pointers made: Richmond Heights – De’Erick Barber 1, Demarris Winters Jr. 1, Jeremy Wilson 1, Dorian Jones 7, Michael McWilliams 1; Crestview – Gavin Etzler 1, Mitch Temple 1, Nate Lichtle 1.
Records – Richmond Heights 29-0; Crestview 25-4