By Kevin Wannemacher
Times Bulletin Business Manager
HAVILAND – In one of the more entertaining games to watch, Crestview and Wayne Trace hooked up in another classic high school basketball game Saturday night at the ‘Palace’ where a last second three-point attempt by the Raiders’ Colby Speice was halfway through the net before popping back out to give the Knights a 50-48 victory.
The contest featured 13 lead changes and six ties on the night and had the late-game drama that has become the norm between these two schools, giving fans from both sides full value of their ticket prices.
With the Knights on top 42-41 after three quarters, Wayne Trace took its first lead of the second half on a Devin Wenzlick bucket with 5:09 remaining.
Following two Damian Helm free throws that put the Knights in front 44-43, a bucket by Preston Zaleski widened the Crestview lead to 46-43 at the 3:28 mark.
A Wayne Trace miss led to a pair of Isaiah Simerman free throws as the Knight advantage grew to 48-43 with 3:07 on the clock.
An Ethan Linder bucket stopped the Raider drought with 1:34 left to get Wayne Trace within 48-45.
Forced to foul, the Raiders sent Crestview’s Cam Etzler to the line where the senior guard hit one of two to make it 49-45 with 50 seconds remaining.
Speice connected on a long distance bomb to pull the Raiders within 49-48 ten seconds later before Etzler was again fouled.
The Knight guard connected on the first foul shot but missed the second as Crestview held a 50-48 lead with 33 ticks on the clock.
From there, Wayne Trace played for the final shot with a Speice trey from the corner doing everything but falling through the bottom of the net, sending the Knights home excited with a win while the Raiders suffered a heartbreaking defeat.
“It was a great basketball game,” commented Crestview head coach Jeremy Best. “It’s tough to see either team lose because both teams played very well and very hard. Both teams had great crowds and the atmosphere was very good. It was a good game for both teams to be a part of at this point of the season.”
Helm topped the Knight attack with 18 points and six rebounds while Etzler chipped in 15 and five as Crestview moved to 7-0 on the season.
“I am proud of the effort of our kids,” Best added. “I thought defensively we really did a good job of limiting good scoring opportunities. You have to give Wayne Trace credit, they came out and hit some big shots early and shot the ball well there in the first quarter. But we were able to get some big defensive stops tonight.”
Simerman added six points for the Knights with Zaleski and Tyson Bolenbaugh chipping in four each. Bolenbaugh grabbed five boards for Crestview and Zaleski picked up four.
Corbin Linder led the Raiders with 19 points while also recording five steals. Wayne Trace also got a solid game from junior guard Jake Arend, who chipped in ten points and four boards. Speice added nine points and four rebounds as well.
“Very pleased with the effort,” stated Wayne Trace head coach Jim Linder. “Crestview is a very, very good basketball and team and it was a great game tonight between two good basketball teams.”
The first quarter featured a much faster pace than the final three quarters. The two teams combined for 36 points in the opening eight minutes with Wayne Trace holding a 20-16 lead entering the second stanza.
Crestview, though, opened the second quarter with three straight buckets, the last of which came from Etzler to give the Knights a 22-20 lead at the 4:10 mark.
Wayne Trace answered with a Speice trey and the Raiders led 26-24 after a Linder three-pointer with 2:40 left in the half. It would be the final Raider point of the quarter, however.
The Knights closed the half with seven straight points, culminated by an Etzler steal and basket just before the halftime buzzer for a 31-26 lead at the intermission.
“Cam made a nice defensive play and then was able to get a layup out of it there right before halftime and that gave us some momentum,” Best commented. “We hang our hat on our defense and tonight it was able to get some big stops for us.”
Crestview never trailed in the third quarter and actually pushed the margin to 38-30 on a Helm basket with 5:34 left in the period.
However, Wayne Trace would answer late in the quarter.
The Raiders closed the stanza on an 11-4 run, with Corbin Linder scoring eight of those points, to trim the deficit to 42-41 entering the final period.
“We showed a lot of good things tonight,” concluded the Raider head coach. “But we also saw something we have to get better at. It was a good game to learn some things about ourselves and now we have to improve in those areas.”
Wayne Trace falls to 3-1 on the season.
The Raider junior varsity improved to 4-0 on the season with a 51-39 win over the Knights.
Alec Vest had a dozen points for the red-white-and-blue with Gabe Wobler chipping in ten. Cole Shepherd and Luke Miller added nine and eight points, respectively. Vest also had five boards for the Raiders with Rylen Asher and Nick Glass getting four each. Miller also dished out four assists.
Cody Mefferd bucketed a game-high 23 points for the Knights, who fall to 5-2. Mefferd also had seven rebounds to go along with two assists and two steals. Braden Van Cleave also had five boards.
Wayne Trace returns to action on Thursday as the Raiders host Fairview in the Green Meadows Conference opener for both schools. Crestview hits the hardwood again on Friday as the Knights visit Ottoville.
The Raiders and Knights are scheduled to meet again in Convoy on Saturday, February 8. Hopefully, it is as fun to watch as this one was.
Score by quarters
Crestview 16 15 11 8- 50
Wayne Trace 20 6 15 7- 48
Crestview (50) individual scoring
Zaleski 4, Etzler 15, Co. Lautzenheiser 2, Rolsten 0, Helm 18, Simerman 6, Bolenbaugh 4, Jones 1
Wayne Trace (48) individual scoring
E. Linder 2, C. Speice 9, Arend 10, C. Linder 19, Wenzlick 4, Blackmore 4, J. Speice 2