COLUMBUS — In a battle of the top two Division IV teams in the state of Ohio, the undefeated and top-ranked Crestview Knights prevailed against No. 2 New Madison Tri-Village 54-50 in D-IV state semifinal action at the Schottenstein Center at Ohio State in the final game of quadruple-header action on Thursday.
The contest, featuring Division IV co-players of the year Damian Helm of Crestview and Tyler Cook of Tri-Village and co-coaches of the year in Jeremy Best and Josh Segester, featured a series of runs by both sides. After racing out to a 7-2 lead to start the contest, Crestview (28-0) went cold in the first half, shooting just 5-of-20 from the floor. Meanwhile, the Patriots (25-2) took advantage, making 10-of-20 from the field to take a 24-19 advantage into the half.
The third quarter, however, would belong to the Knights, outscoring Tri-Village 15-4 in the stanza and holding the Patriots scoreless from the field (0-of-6).
“We didn’t actually play the first have the way we’d liked,” explained Best, an Edon graduate. “They were physical and we struggled with that. They imposed their will and we didn’t man up on the defensive end.
“After half, it was noticeable in our body language. Give our kids credit, they came back in the second half and accepted the challenge.”
Commented Best on the defensive effort: “That’s something we hang our hat on. It’s a huge reason why we are where we are right now.”
Despite shooting 0-of-4 from the field, Helm made his presence known down the stretch, canning all 10 of his free throw attempts to propel Crestview into the state championship game and a chance to claim an undefeated state championship season on Saturday against 18-11 Louisville St. Thomas Aquinas.
The other D-IV Player of the Year also made an all-around impact, racking up 20 points, eight boards and four assists in his final game as a Patriot.
“In the first quarter, we had the tempo where we wanted it, methodical and deliberate,” lamented Tri-Village coach Josh Segester. “In the second half, they were able to speed us up and we had some uncharacteristic turnovers.”
Tyson Bolenbaugh led the way for the Knights with 15 points, while guard Cam Etzler chipped in 13.
Junior Damion Cook contributed 16 tallies for the Patriots, who suffered just their second loss of the season, snapping an 11-game streak.
Crestview and St. Thomas Aquinas will square off for the Division IV state crown at the Schottenstein Center at 1:30 p.m.