BOWLING GREEN — Ottawa Hills ran into a buzz saw Tuesday night as top-ranked Convoy Crestview put a defensive stranglehold on the fifth-ranked Green Bears and hammered out an impressive 49-26 victory in a Division IV boys regional semifinal at the Stroh Center.
The Knights (26-0) held Ottawa Hills (22-2) to just six field goals in the game and limited the Bears’ district player of the year, 6-foot-7 senior Geoff Beans, to just two points on 0-for-9 shooting from the floor.
PHOTO GALLERY: Ottawa Hills falls to Convoy Crestview
“The physicality of the game was a big difference maker tonight,” Ottawa Hills coach John Lindsay said. “They were extremely physical with us, and we just didn’t handle it well. It’s a one-game season and you can’t have a down night.
“I thought we defended well for the majority of the game, but it was our offensive execution. We weren’t working hard enough on the wings to get open and get the looks we needed to get.”
Crestview got 11 points from Cam Etzler, who defended Beans, plus 10 points apiece from Connor Lautzenheiser and Damian Helm.
The Knights will face 10th-ranked Wayne Trace (23-3) in Friday’s 7 p.m. regional final at the Stroh Center.
Ottawa Hills’ only effective player in the contest was 6-9 senior center R.J. Coil, who had game highs of 19 points and 14 rebounds. He was effective on the rare occasions the Bears could get him the ball.
“It was tough,” Coil said. “We just kept getting it too high out on the wings, and we turned it over too much.
“It’s a one-game season, and it wasn’t our night tonight.”
In a first half in which each possession seemed like a half-court turf war, neither team got untracked offensively. The Bears were 3 of 13 from the field, the Knights 4 of 19, and there were 23 fouls called.
Crestview got some brief early momentum and made that stand up through halftime, leading 21-13 on the strength of a 12-for-16 effort at the foul line.
After Ottawa Hills got the game’s first points on a short bank shot from 6-foot-7 forward Ellis Cummings 1 minute, 39 seconds into the first quarter, Crestview outscored the Bears 12-1 to close the period.
Coil converted two three-point plays in the second quarter as part of his nine-point, eight-rebound first half. His final free throw of the half got the Bears within 21-13 at the break.
But Ottawa Hills fared no better in the second half, as Crestview’s relentless pressure — both full and half-court — chipped away at the Bears’ resolve. The Knights netted eight points off steals.
The Bears were dealt two big blows in the third quarter.
First, Cummings picked up his fourth foul with 5:56 left in the period.
Then freshman starting guard Hunter Sieben was taken off on a stretcher at the 3:35 mark with an apparent head or neck injury after a midcourt collision in a loose ball scramble.
Sieben’s condition was not known after the game, but he was fully conscious and able to move his arms and legs.
Lautzenheiser turned that loose ball into a transition layup for a 25-15 lead.
When play resumed, Etzler got another steal and layup to put the Knights up by 12.
“Both teams were in foul trouble throughout the game,” Knights coach Jeremy Best said. “We had to try to impose our will on them from a physical standpoint because we weren’t as physically imposing [in height] as they were.
“Our team effort was fabulous. We had backside help most of the time, and we had great pressure on the ball. We said that was going to be key over the course of time. As the game wore on and got into the fourth quarter, that’s where it kind of came through for us.”
Two inside buckets in the final two minutes of the third quarter by Coil sent the Bears to the fourth down 29-20, but by then Beans had drawn his fourth foul.
“Give credit to them,” Beans said. “They played physical. They pushed us out. We’ve been in that situation before, but tonight they brought their ‘A’ game and we just didn’t.”
Crestview put things out of reach after a Coil 15-footer with 5:36 remaining pulled the Green Bears within 32-23.
Best called for timeout and Crestview ran a delay that took over two minutes off the clock.
That stretch was followed by a 3-pointer from sub Mitchell Rickard with 3:54 left, a steal and layup from Lautzenheiser at 3:40, then a three-point play from Etzler with 3:04 to go that put the Knights up 40-23.
Crestview was 14 of 42 (33 percent) from the field, 17 of 21 (81 percent) at the free-throw line, and also forced the Bears into 16 turnovers.
Ottawa Hills shot 6 of 26 (23 percent) from the field, 14 of 21 (67 percent) at the line, and outrebounded the Knights 29-26.
Crestview committed just three turnovers.