ELIDA — Crestview sophomore Javin Etzler has been an offensive force at times this season. On Tuesday, it was his defense that stood out in a Division IV district semifinal at Elida’s Fieldhouse.

With 1:28 to play and the Knights clinging to a 1-point lead, Etzler swatted away a shot by Kalida’s Collin Nartker with one leap, then jumped again to grab the loose ball as Crestview closed the game on a 6-1 run and advanced with a 41-37 victory.

“Each one gets a little bit bigger,” Crestview head coach Jeremy Best said of the win. “I’m just real proud of our fellas; this was a physical, tightly-contested game against a good basketball team that caused us all kinds of physical issues. I was unbelievably proud of the way our kids responded.”

The Knights, now 17-6, will face Delphos St. John’s in Friday’s district title game beginning at 7 p.m.

In a physical struggle, neither team had much going offensively on Tuesday night. At was 16-15, Crestview, at halftime, and neither squad was shooting better than 31 percent.

“That’s where we hang our hat,” Best said of his team’s defensive effort. “Games are going to be tight, and we’ve still got some young pups, young kids, and that’s one thing we hope they can do on a consistent basis.”

“In the first half, we missed way too many easy ones,” Kalida head coach Ryan Stechschulte said. “We did such a good job defensively, holding them to 16 points, and I don’t even know what we shot in the first half, but we had to miss it felt like a dozen layups.”

Though the Knights had led by as many as seven in the first half, Kalida broke a 19-19 tie early in the third when Nartker wheeled through the lane for a hoop to put the Wildcats on top for the first time in the game. The Wildcats (12-13) were down one when Crestview’s Wade Sheets worked himself free on the baseline for a hoop to end the quarter. The Knights then opened the fourth with a pair of Derek Stout free throws and a Sheets bucket in the lane to match their biggest margin with a 31-24 edge.

As they seemed to do whenever the Knights tried to pull away, however, the Wildcats answered with a 3-pointer. After Nartker made a free throw, Owen Recker drained a trey to pull Kalida within three at 31-28. Two possessions later, following Sheets’ 15-footer for a 33-28 scoreboard, Trent Siebeneck lined up a trey and knocked it home for a 2-point margin. With 3:40 left, Siebeneck tied the game on a step-back 6-footer, but Sheets answered with another bucket of his own.

“It says a lot about resiliency, and about seniors not ready to go home,” Stechschulte said of his team’s comeback. “These guys wanted like crazy to play on Friday. We’ve got four seniors that have stuck through the entire year. At 2-7, a lot of teams and a lot of seniors would pack it in for the year, but that’s a tribute to these guys for their leadership and their unselfishness.”

Nartker then split a pair of free throws and Noah Lambert put Kalida ahead with a fastbreak bucket with 2:20 to play. Stout put the Knights back on top with two free throws, and Etzler provided the stop Crestview needed with his third blocked shot of the second half.

From there, Crestview made 4 of 6 free throws down the stretch to keep Kalida at arm’s length. The Wildcats trailed by four points with 21 seconds to go, but Crestview’s defense kept the Wildcats from getting a shot off until Siebeneck took a desperation fall-away three from 28 feet as time expired.

Kalida, which stood at 2-7 through nine games this season, shot just 30 percent (13-for-43) from the field. Nartker led the way with 9 points while Siebeneck added 8 and Recker scored 7.

Sheets led all scorers with 17 points for the Knights. He also led the team with 7 rebounds. Stout added 12 points and 5 boards, while Etzler scored 8 points while grabbing 6 rebounds. No other Knight made a field goal in the game.

Crestview shot just 38 percent (16-for-42) from the floor while going 0-for-7 from 3-point range.

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CRESTVIEW (41)

Wade Sheets 8-15 1-2 17, Drew Kline 0-2 0-2 0, Derek Stout 4-11 4-5 12, Javin Etzler 4-8 0-0 8, Spencer Rolsten 0-2 2-2 2, Brett Schumm 0-1 2-4 2, Grant Schlagbaum 0-1 0-0 0, Trevor Gibson 0-2 0-0 0, Derick Dealey 0-0 0-0 0; Totals 16-42 9-15 41

KALIDA (37)

Trent Siebeneck 3-8 0-0 8, Noah Lambert 3-7 0-0 7, Grant Laudick 1-2 2-4 4, Collin Nartker 3-12 2-4 9, Jeffrey Knueve 0-7 0-0 0, Owen Recker 2-3 1-2 7, Braden Decker 0-3 0-0 0, Trevor Lambert 1-1 0-0 2; Totals 13-43 5-10 37

Crestview 12 4 11 14 - 41

Kalida 5 10 9 13 - 37

3-point field goals: Cvw 0-7, Kal 6-18 (Siebeneck 2, Recker 2, Nartker, NLambert); Rebounds: Cvw 29 (Sheets 7), Kal 28 (NLambert 6); Assists: Cvw 2 (Rolsten, Sheets), Kal 7 (Siebeneck 3); Turnovers: Cvw 9, Kal 9; Fouls: Cvw 10, Kal 17