Cougar boys rally to edge Crestview
SCOTT TRUXELL/independent sports
It was a nostalgic night and a high school basketball thriller, all rolled into one.
In front of a full house at the S.F. Goedde Building, the Van Wert Cougars (5-4) rallied from a double-digit deficit to defeat the Crestview Knights 47-44. Saturday night’s game was the first varsity basketball game played at the original Den in over a decade.
Jacoby Kelly was a perfect 6-for-6 from the charity stripe in the fourth quarter, hitting four free throws and two technical shots. He finished with a game-high 20 points, and accounted for 16 of Van Wert’s 24 second half points.
The Cougars needed every one of those points, as Crestview’s Drew Kline, Wade Sheets and Grant Schlagbaum each drilled treys, on the way to a 17-9 first quarter lead. Midway through the second quarter, the Knights extended the lead to 22-11, when Schlagbaum hit a basket and free throw, and Javin Etzler connected for two.
But the Cougars stormed back late in the second quarter when Kelly hit a triple, and Dylan Lautzenheiser scored on a tip-in at the buzzer to trim the halftime deficit to 28-23.
“Dylan’s tip at the buzzer was huge for us,” Van Wert head coach Mark Bagley said. “It gave us momentum going into the third quarter.”
Van Wert opened the third period by scoring the first five points — another triple by Kelly and a layup by Nate Place to tie the game at 28. The Knights (5-3) responded with a basket by Derek Stout and a three-pointer by Etzler to put Crestview back up by five, but the Cougars countered with a bucket by Place, then a two-point basket and a trey by Kelly, then a layup by Place, to finish the third quarter with a 37-33 lead.
Crestview scored the first six points of the fourth quarter on free throws by Sheets and baskets by Stout and Kline to take a 39-37 lead. Caleb Bagley connected for two to tie the game at 39, then Stout’s bucket gave Crestview a 41-39 advantage.
That’s when Kelly took over, scoring Van Wert’s final eight points. Two free throws by the 5-10 junior tied the game at 41 with 2:30 left. He then hit a short jumper with 1:44 remaining to give the Cougars a 43-41 lead. Two more free throws by Kelly pushed the lead to 45-41, but Crestview’s Wade Sheets drilled a three-pointer from the top of the key to make it 45-44 with 12 seconds left.
After a missed Cougar free throw, the Knights had one final chance. After racing down the court, Stout attempted a baseline drive but was called for traveling when he tumbled to the court after contact with a defender.
Crestview coaches argued the call, and a technical foul was assessed with .09 second left. Kelly hit both technical shots to ice the game.
Bagley was pleased with the outcome and the atmosphere.
“It was a great game, and this is what high school basketball is all about,” Bagley said. “Crestview’s a great team and they’re going to win a lot of games this year.”
“We’ve been in this position in several of our games,” Crestview head coach Jeremy Best said. “Our guys at times do great things, but then we go into funks, and we need to find a way to get out of that.
“You’re never going to play a perfect game, we know that,” Best added. “Our guys continue to be youthful in some situations, and we just have to keep coaching those situations up.”
The Knights will host Delphos Jefferson Friday night, and will travel to Arlington Saturday.
The Cougars will play at Shawnee Friday, and at Marion Local Saturday.
Van Wert 9 14 14 10–-47
Crestview 17 11 5 11–-44
Van Wert (47) — Jacoby Kelly 20, Nate Place 10, Dylan Lautzenheiser 10, Drew Bagley 7.
Crestview (44) — Drew Kline 7, Wade Sheets 10, Javin Etzler 11, Derek Stout 8 Grant Schlagbaum 5, Trevor Gibson 2.
JV game: Crestview won 42-33.