By RUSTY MILLER
AP Sports Writer
COLUMBUS — In a tight game, Convoy Crestview’s defense made all the difference in the world.
Damian Helm, Tyson Bolenbaugh and Connor Lautzenheiser each had two baskets in an 18-0 blitz to start the third quarter, pushing the top-ranked Knights to a 71-44 victory over Louisville Aquinas on Saturday for its first Division IV state championship.
“When we make up our minds that we’re going to take away at the defensive end what (the other team) wants to do, we feed off that,” Crestview coach Jeremy Best said.
It ended up being a buffet.
Aquinas (18-12) hit its first four 3-pointers and also made seven of its first 11 shots from the field but still trailed 22-19 because of nine early turnovers.
Crestview led 15-9 after a quarter and 26-23 at the half.
Then came the game-changing run.
After scoring the last two points of the second quarter, Crestview ripped off the first 18 points of the third to build a 44-23 lead.
Best had been angry and animated at the half of a 54-50 victory over New Madison Tri-Village in the semis, propelling his team to score 15 of the 19 points in the third quarter.
This time, he barely raised his voice.
“He really stressed being tougher,” point guard Cam Etzler said. “That they were being tougher than us (in the first half).”
Lautzenheiser had two 3s and Helm one during the spurt. Showing their depth, those three players had at least two baskets and five players scored for Crestview. Both Bolenbaugh and Lautzenheiser had six points and Helm had four.
Aquinas went scoreless for 6 minutes and 28 seconds, missing five shots and surrendering seven turnovers over that span before sub Pete Ruthe finally broke the ice when his shot from under the hoop in traffic rolled in at the 2:48 mark.
“Man, Crestview is a good team,” said Aquinas coach Matt Hackenberg. “They really D’d it up and made it hard for us to get good looks.”
Crestview (29-0) won the title in its third trip to the final four.
Anthony Moeglin had 10 for Aquinas, which is making its second trip to the state tournament but first since 1975.
“Their guards were able to create and get into the paint,” he said. “They got us in help situations where they could dish off to their big men.”
Crestview used its defense to pick up points in transition, often with long backside passes to its big men who were open as Aquinas tried to trap out on top.
“My teammates found me,” said Bolenbaugh, a 6-foot-5 senior. “I just went with the flow in the game.”
Crestview outscored Aquinas 20-3 in the quarter to build the lead to 46-26, hitting 8 of 12 shots from the field with two turnovers to Aquinas’ 1 of 7 with seven turnovers.
The school from Van Wert county kept piling it on in the fourth quarter before substituting.
Helm, a first-team Associated Press All-Ohioan, finished with 20 points. Bolenbaugh ended up 2ith 18 and Lautzenheiser had 11. Preston Zaleski added 10 points.
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