GREENWICH — Crestview had some extra motivation heading into its game against South Central.
The Cougars entered the matchup on a 16-game losing streak to their Firelands Conference rival, and they wanted nothing more than to put the streak to bed.
“We talked [before the game about wanting] to break [the streak],” Crestview coach John Kurtz said. “I’ve only been here two years, but these kids know [beating South Central] has been an issue.”
Crestview jumped out to a big lead in the first quarter and withstood a late Trojans rally to win 62-53 in boys basketball action Friday at South Central High School.
“It was kind of motivation for us tonight,” Crestview junior Owen Barker said. “[Kurtz brought up the losing streak] in the locker room before the game. Even at halftime when we were up, we had it in our minds the whole time. They’re a good team, and we always know when we come up here it’s going to be a battle.”
Crestview (7-8, 5-5) scored the game’s first seven points and led 23-6 at the end of the first quarter. Barker and his teammates attacked the basket nearly every possession in the first quarter as South Central (12-4, 9-2) struggled to keep them from getting to the rim.
“Any game you can get a 17-point lead, that’s a lot of momentum,” Barker said. “Even if they start to come back, you can remember that you did that at the beginning of the game and you can come back and do it again.”
The Trojans opened the second quarter on a 9-0 run and went into halftime down 30-23. Crestview started settling for jump shots instead of attacking the basket, which allowed SC to work its way back into the game.
But the Cougars went on a 9-2 run to start the third quarter, pushing their lead back to 14.
The run was a gut punch to the Trojans, who used a ton of effort to make it a seven-point game at halftime. Coming back from a 14-point deficit felt more like 25 because of the huge hole they dug themselves to start the game.
“If we had come out in the second half and were ready to go and made a run at it, it could have been different,” South Central coach Brett Seidel said. “But they came out and hit a couple layups and a 3 and it was a 15-point deficit again. We had to continue to fight and fight and fight.”
Mason Ringler’s two free throws put Crestview ahead 54-39 midway through the fourth quarter, but that’s when things got interesting.
The Trojans buried three 3-pointers to cut their deficit to seven. After a layup by Barker, they converted consecutive turnovers into baskets at the other end to pull to within four (57-53) with 54 seconds remaining.
They never got any closer, though, as Crestview closed out the game by making 5 of 6 from the free-throw line.
“We kind of became non-aggressive,” Kurtz said. “There’s that fine line there between controlling the clock and not doing anything. We were kind of on the other end of that. Our kids did battle and made free throws late, which was a key to the game.”
Barker paced the Cougars with 16 points. Heath Kash added 15 points and hit three 3-pointers, Jarek Ringler chipped in 12 points and Austin Wells contributed nine.
Crestview entered the game on a three-game losing streak and had just lost 78-40 to state-ranked Colonel Crawford on Tuesday, so getting a win over South Central was a big confidence booster.
“We’ve been struggling a little bit this season, so we needed this game to turn it around,” Barker said. “We can only go up from here.”
Isaac Blair scored a game-high 23 points, including 15 in the second half, to lead South Central. Sam Seidel added 12 points.
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This article originally appeared on Ashland Times Gazette: Crestview snaps lengthy losing streak to South Central