By MICHAEL BURWELL
LIMA — When it mattered most, Convoy Crestview’s fourth-quarter defense took over.
And Leipsic saw its chances of winning the district finals slowly slip away.
The Knights held Leipsic to just six fourth-quarter points, forced six turnovers and scored 15 points in the quarter to defeat the Vikings 41-33 in a defensive-minded Division-IV district final game at Lima Senior on Saturday.
Convoy Crestview (23-1) advances to the regional semifinals and will play Holgate on Thursday at 8 p.m. at Elida. Leipsic finished its season at 21-4.
“That was a credit to our defense because we had a lot of spells there,” Convoy Crestview head coach Greg Rickard said of the Knights’ fourth-quarter. “We had some good possessions, we had some good shots, we couldn’t knock much down, but we kept going down and getting stops, getting stops and we were able to knock down some free throws.
“Leipsic’s a great team and you’re only going to get one shot. We didn’t shoot the greatest, but our defense carried us.”
In a game where points were hard to come by, Convoy Crestview took control with 5:18 left in the game when Emily Bauer’s three-point play gave the Knights a 31-27 lead. She grabbed an offensive rebound off of Mackenzie Riggenbach’s miss, put it back up and drained the free throw.
It was the largest lead for Convoy Crestview up to that point, one they wouldn’t relinquish.
A pair of free throws from Bauer on Convoy Crestview’s next possession gave the Knights a 33-27 lead with 4:49 left. Leipsic didn’t score in the fourth quarter until Haley Gerten’s free throw with 3:10 left cut the deficit to 33-28.
“We knew that there wasn’t going to be a whole lot of possessions in the middle of the fourth quarter, left in the game,” Leipsic head coach Gary Kreinbrink said. “Every time we did turn it over, we knew that was going to be a problem as far as getting enough possessions to climb ourselves back into it.”
Leipsic’s Shalynn Morman’s drive for two cut the Knights’ lead to 33-30 with 1:50 left, but that was the closest the Vikings would get the rest of the game.
Convoy Crestview shot 13 of 16 (81 percent) from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter, and 19 of 23 (83 percent) for the game. Leipsic, on the other hand, shot just 3 of 7 (43 percent) from the foul line for the game and committed 15 turnovers to Convoy Crestview’s 11.
The start of the game, though, could not have been any better for the Vikings, as they charged out to a 7-0 lead within the first two minutes. Gerten’s backdoor bucket, Amber Gerdeman’s basket in the paint, and a 3-pointer from Morman gave Leipsic the early momentum.
Rickard called a timeout after Morman’s three, Convoy Crestview settled down and outscored the Vikings 8-2 for the rest of the quarter.
“We just kind of had to stop the bleeding there,” Rickard said. “We went out in some zone and they did some nice things on that. We had to just kind of gather ourselves and get a timeout there and we went back to man.”
Leipsic held the lead for the entire first half, except for 19 seconds when Lindsey Motycka, who led Convoy Crestview with 14 points, made a fade-away jumper to give the Knights an 18-17 lead with 43 seconds left in the half.
The Vikings came right back off of another backdoor bucket by Gerten, who scored 14 points to lead Leipsic, with 24 seconds left to regain the lead at 19-18.
Bauer was the only other player in the game to score in double figures (13 points). The 5-foot-9 sophomore is the tallest player on the Knights’ roster, and along with the rest of the Knights’ defense, held Leipsic’s Gerdeman (6-foot-1) and Kelly Nadler (6-foot-2) to 11 combined points.
“They were both really good,” Bauer said. “But I just knew that I had to outwork them because they both have some pretty good talent.”
CONVOY CRESTVIEW (23-1)
Crowle 1-0–2, Riggenbach 1-6–8, Bauer 4-5–13, Motycka 5-4–14, Hicks 0-4–4, Zaleski 0-0–0, , Hartman 0-0–0. TOTALS: 11-37 19-23–41.
Rieman 1-0–3, Morman 2-0–5, Gerdeman 2-1–5, Nadler 3-0–6, Gerten 5-2–14, Steffan 0-0–0, H. Kreinbrink 0-0–0. TOTALS: 13-41 3-7–33.
Convoy Crestview 8 10 8 15 — 41
Leipsic 9 10 8 6 — 33
3-POINT GOALS: Convoy Crestview 0-12; Leipsic 4-13 (Gerten 3, Rieman & Morman 1).
Rebounds: Convoy Crestview 22 (Bauer & Hicks 5); Leipsic 22 (Gerdeman 8)
Turnovers: Convoy Crestview 11, Leipsic 15.
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