Lady Knights avenge only loss with 51-35 win over Cougars
Tuesday, January 21, 2014 12:02 AM
By John Parent
In a game filled with physical play, Van Wert’s Alexis Dowdy (5) and Crestview’s Kennis Mercer battle for possession under the basket. Mercer scored 10 for the Lady Knights in the win while Dowdy had four for Van Wert. (Times Bulletin/Tina Eley)
Times Bulletin Sports Editor
CONVOY — The Crestview Lady Knights entered play on Monday night with a single blemish on their record. The schedule presented an opportunity to avenge an early-season loss to county rival Van Wert, and Crestview took advantage, jumping out to a 19-5 lead en route to a 51-35 victory.
Crestview improves to 13-1 on the year while the Lady Cougars fall to 13-3.
The story of the game for Van Wert, especially early, was missed opportunities.
While Crestview starters Kirsten Hicks, Emily Bauer and Mackenzie Riggenbach all missed significant chunks of action in the first half due to foul trouble, the Cougars, who never led, didn’t get on the board until a Riley Jones three-point field goal at 3:31 to play in the first.
It wasn’t until more than another full quarter of game time had passed before the Cougars made their third field goal. By that time, Crestview was in control of the contest.
Van Wert managed just 6-for-19 shooting in the opening half and 0-for-5 from the free throw line. It took an 8-2 Cougar run to end the second period just to bring them within 21-13 at the break.
“We missed free throws early, gave them a little bit of a lead, gave them that momentum and it’s hard, in somebody else’s place, to come back,” noted Van Wert head coach Lance Moonshower. “A good team like that, if you spot them 10 or 12 points like we did, it’s tough to come back from.”
If the Lady Knights were expecting to cruise to a win, they were mistaken. As Bauer and Riggenbach each picked up a third personal foul in the opening minutes of the second half, the Lady Cougars ratcheted up the intensity of their full-court man-to-man pressure and Crestview found it difficult to get the ball up the court.
The Cougars used a pair of Alexis Dowdy free throws and a three-pointer from Cheyenne Handy to trim the Crestview lead all the way down to 21-18 with 5:00 to play in the third.
That’s when Crestview junior Lindsey Motycka took the Lady Knights on her back.
Motycka drilled an 18-foot jumper to give Crestview a bit of breathing room and that was followed by Kennis Mercer rebounding her own miss and scoring inside. When Motycka sunk a turnaround jumper at 1:38 to go in the period, Crestview had pushed the score back to 27-18.
Again, the Van Wert pressure kept them in the game. After a free throw by Claire Butler, Handy swiped the in-bounds pass and laid one in off the glass just seconds before the third quarter expired to bring the Cougars back to within seven.
“(The Cougars) are very aggressive, especially in the full court,” noted Crestview coach Greg Rickard. “There were times we had some bad breakdowns with some silly passes and poor decisions. In the fourth quarter, I thought we did a little bit better job of moving the ball a bit more and making them chase us instead of dribbling right into a trap.”
That adjustment led to back-to-back mini-breaks for the Lady Knights when Mercer found Hicks at mid-court, who then passed off to a streaking Motycka. Van Wert was unable to get back quick enough to prevent the basket either time.
Not only did Hicks assist in breaking the Van Wert pressure, but she made an impact on the glass and at the defensive end, causing a steal at the six-minute mark and blocking Dowdy’s shot attempt late in the game, leading to a jump ball situation. She finished with seven points.
“(Hicks) is always consistent for us. She does a great job. She doesn’t score a ton of points, but defensively and rebounds and passing; she’s a calming influence out there for us,” Rickard added. “She played well. I thought Kennis played well and Lindsey.”
“It was a group effort tonight, even from the bench,” added Rickard. “We had to play the bench a lot because of that foul trouble and they came in and gave us some good minutes.”
Motycka continued to force the issue for the Knights in the final stanza and wound up scoring nine of her game-high 20 in the period. Mercer, who drained two threes in the first half, was the only other Knight in double figures. She had 10.
The Lady Cougars, meanwhile, struggled to make shots right throughout the second half. Van Wert finished with a dozen points in the final quarter, but 10 of those came from the free throw line. The Cougars were just 1-for-12 from the floor.
The three-point shot, such a weapon for the Lady Cougars in the 51-49 win over Crestview in November, was nowhere to be found on Monday. Van Wert was just 2-for-12 from three-point range in this contest.
“We just didn’t have it tonight,” noted Moonshower. “A lot of that had to do with Crestview. That’s a good team. Every opportunity they got, they took advantage of it.”
“It just seemed like every time (Crestview) needed a bucket, they got it. Every time we did, we just couldn’t get over the hump,” finished Moonshower.
The Lady Knights were a cool 18-for-36 from the field on Monday, including 3-for-5 from long range. They also canned 12-of-15 at the line. Though the Knights racked up 20 turnovers in the win, they out-rebounded Van Wert 32-21 for the game.
Crestview also claimed a win in the junior varsity contest by a final of 35-28.
Score by quarters
Van Wert 5 8 10 12- 35
Crestview 12 9 9 21- 51
Van Wert (35)
Jones 3, Hall 0, Dowdy 4, Butler 3, Morrow 14, Moonshower 0, Handy 7, Dunlap 2, Bair 0, Weigle 2
Mercer 10, Riggenbach 2, Bauer 5, Motycka 20, Hicks 7, Crowle 3, Grote 0, Hartman 4