HARROD — Before a hostile crowd and with the conference title on the line, Crestview “zoned” in on its goal and got the job done.
The Knights claimed at least a share of their 15th Northwest Conference title by beating host Allen East 61-42 on Thursday. Crestview improved to 17-1 overall and 7-0 in the NWC while Allen East tumbled to 12-6, 6-1.
Crestview can win the NWC championship outright when it ends the regular season at home against Bluffton on Thursday. Allen East, alone in second place in the conference, travels to Delphos Jefferson to finish the NWC on the same night.
“We’re juniors and sophomores, a couple seniors, but this is the same team that won 22 games last year and went undefeated in the league,” Crestview coach Greg Rickard said. “It was an awesome environment, we knew it would be, but the girls played well. We’ve played in this type of environment before so it wasn’t going to bother them.”
Offensively, Crestview had three players reach double figures as Lindsey Motycka led the way with 19 points and Mackenzie Riggenbach and Emily Bauer scored 14 points apiece.
And while the Knights’ offense was balanced and consistent all night, their zone defense turned out to be an even tougher barrier for Allen East. The trio of forward Motycka, center/forward Emily Bauer and forward Kristin Hicks virtually locked down the paint from penetration and the Mustangs were unable to shoot Crestview out of its zone.
“They have some great players on the perimeter, but we were thinking the zone might slow them down a little bit,” Rickard said. “Of course, you’re banking they don’t have a great shooting night from the 3. They hit a few, they’ve got some great shooters who can do that, but we thought it was effective to what we wanted to do.”
Allen East made 6-of-19 3-point attempts and Crestview outrebounded the Mustangs 39-22.
“The zone hasn’t bothered us as much this year,” Allen East coach Jarrod Wehri said. “But especially with their aggressiveness, it gave us some trouble.”
Allen East led 7-6 at the 3:25 mark of the first quarter before Crestview’s offense got consistent and the defense took hold. The Knights worked the ball underneath to Motycka, who scored 11 points in the first half, and went on a 19-7 run that gave them a 27-14 lead late in the first half.
During that run, Allen East made just 2-of-10 3-pointers.
For most of the second half, the Knights’ lead hovered around 10 points until the Mustangs came alive early in the fourth. London Richardson and Lindsi Woods each hit 3-pointers and Allen East snapped off an 8-2 run to cut Crestview’s lead to 44-37 with 4:24 remaining.
But Crestview answered with an 8-0 run to get the score to 52-37 before burying 6-of-7 free throws to salt the game away.
“Crestview is a tremendous team, well-balanced, well-coached,” Wehri said. “They came out and played their style and came out with a victory.”
Kaycee Rowe finished with 10 points for the Mustangs while Richardson scored nine points on senior night.
“It was a tremendous atmosphere,” Wehri said. “The community really came out and supported the girls. It was great to see, it’s just too bad we couldn’t come out with a victory. Any loss is disappointing, we’ve gotten to the point where we don’t tolerate it as much. But you’ve got to credit Crestview, we knew they wouldn’t hand it over.”