Ottawa Hills up next for top-ranked Knights at regional
Monday, March 10, 2014 12:00 AM
By Kevin Wannemacher
Crestview guard Cam Etzler drives for a layup during the first half of the Knights’ district championship win over Miller City. Etzler scored nine points and dished out eight assists in the win. (Times Bulletin/Tina Eley)
Times Bulletin Business Manager
CONVOY — Two highly-touted basketball teams will square off at the Stroh Center on the campus of Bowling Green State University on Tuesday night when undefeated Crestview takes on Ottawa Hills in the second game of the evening.
The Knights (25-0) and Green Bears (22-1) meet in what has been a highly-anticipated match-up for most of the regular season. Neither team has disappointed this year, with only an overtime loss keeping the two squads from meeting as unbeatens.
The Knights have been unstoppable this year, with the red-white-and-blue posting a perfect regular season and a Northwest Conference championship.
Crestview has played seven games that have been decided by less than ten points, including a pair of two-point wins over Wayne Trace (50-48) and Celina (62-60). The Knights also were forced into overtime by Columbus Grove before posting a 55-48 victory in the regular season finale.
Crestview is led by a group of seven seniors.
Senior wing Damian Helm (6-4) leads the Knights in scoring at 15.1 points a night while picking up 4.2 rebounds per game. Helm also adds 67 assists and 24 steals for Crestview.
Cam Etzler, a 5-11 point guard, paces the squad with 118 assists and 73 steals while also chipping 9.84 points and 3 rebounds a game.
Another key senior for the Knights is 6-foot-5 forward Tyson Bolenbaugh. The senior aids the Knight cause with 10.7 points a contest but paces Crestview at 5.3 boards per game.
Crestview will also look to get solid play from several underclassmen. Junior Preston Zaleski chips in 4.0 points and 3.9 rebounds a game for the Knights and sophomore Connor Lautzenheiser adds 9.4 points and 2.5 rebounds a night.
Junior sharpshooter Mitchell Rickard also has averaged 2.8 points per night for the Knights.
Ottawa Hills comes into the contest riding a 19-game winning streak of its own. The Green Bears’ lone loss came back on December 7, a 58-55 overtime decision at Sylvania Southview.
The only other games the Green Bears have under ten-points have been victories over Liberty Benton (56-51), Gibsonburg (47-39), Toledo Christian (41-33) and Cardinal Stritch (49-41).
“They are really hard to compare to anybody we have played this year,” noted Crestview head coach Jeremy Best. “We haven’t played anybody with this type of size and athletic ability. Their big kids are very good and they are capable of hurting you in multiple ways. Their guards do a good job of knowing what they want to do with the basketball and they are very good about getting them into good situations. But you can’t back off of them because they are capable of hitting the outside shots as well.”
Ottawa Hills hasn’t played in a game closer than a dozen points since January 17, with Friday’s 36-24 victory over Toledo Christian in the district championship.
“We want to put our kids into different situations and have them face different things throughout the year and we think our schedule does that,” continued the Knight mentor. “We believe that a good schedule prepares you for these types of games. It’s why we play teams like Celina, New Knoxville, Wayne Trace and Lima Central Catholic outside of our league.”
Senior Geoff Beans, who stands 6-foot-7, was the AP All-Northwest District Player of the Year after averaging 17.6 points per game for the green-and-white and teammate R.J. Coil, a 6-foot-9 forward, was a third-team selection following a year that saw him average 14.5 points per night. The two Green Bear standouts will continue their basketball careers at Division I universities next year as Beans will play at Furman University (Southern Conference) while Coil will attend Marist College (Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference).
“They have two kids going Division I, so that tells you something because you don’t typically see that in Division IV,” added Best. “Our kids have done a good job all season of keeping things in perspective and focusing on what we need to do each night. That is a credit to our seniors and the leadership that we have had.”
The winner of the Knights-Green Bears contest returns on Friday to play the winner of the Wayne Trace-Buckeye Central game in the regional championship.