Crestview’s near-perfect quarter leads to perfect season

COLUMBUS – It wasn’t a perfect third quarter. For one thing, it began with Damian Helm’s miss on a 3-pointer.

But just about everything else Helm and his Convoy Crestview teammates did in that eight-minute span was a positive.

Owners of a 26-23 lead at halftime, Crestview scored the first 18 points of the second half and there was no stopping them from there.

In a battle of Knights, Crestview had by far the superior armor in the form of an unyielding defense while blowing past Louisville St. Thomas Aquinas 71-44 for the Division IV state championship at Value City Arena Saturday afternoon.

Crestview became the winningest undefeated team in Ohio high school history with a 29-0 mark while sending Aquinas home as an 18-12 runner-up.

“It’s awesome when you have Smalltown, USA like we have,” Crestview coach Jeremy Best said of the school’s second state championship. The other was in 2003.

“Just the tradition of our basketball program through the years, it’s really special,” he said. “There were a lot of people before us who put a lot of time in this program and we’ve tried to keep it going. That’s what makes it special.”

Connor Lautsenheiser hit a couple 3-pointers and Tyson Bolenbaugh hit three inside hoops to spark the offensive portion of the Crestview burst. But it was founded upon defense – Crestview had three steals and Aquinas had seven turnovers in the quarter.

It wasn’t until the 2:50 mark that Aquinas advanced when Pete Ruthe hit a jumper in the lane. By that time, Crestview was in command at 44-25.

“That is a pretty unique run,” Best said. “You put together an 18-0 run, that’s good stuff. We’ve had runs at different times of the season and we can be explosive.

“Once we starting getting some turnovers and some runouts, that’s when it gets pretty good,” he said.

While Aquinas was unable to get much going, it wasn’t for lack of trying.

“Our hand was kind of forced because we were never really able to take control of the game,” Aquinas coach Matt Hackenberg said. “It started with the way they set the tone defensively from the beginning.

“We tried moving them around, we tried spacing, we tried to run sets, we tried ball screens, we tried all the stuff we’re capable of and do pretty well,” he said. “But we just couldn’t break through.”

While offense is supposed to be the fun thing, the Crestline players know where their game begins.

“Defense is the main thing coach stresses,” point guard Cam Etzler said. “Eventually it allows us to get in transition and for us, transition is probably one of our stronger points.”

Helm led the winners with 20 points. Bolenbaugh added 18 points with eight rebounds while Lautzenheiser (six assists) and Preston Zaleski scored 11 and 10, respectively.

Anthony Moeglin led Aquinas with 10 points and five rebounds. Sam Pusateri added nine points and Austin Hill contributed six points and six boards.