The Van Wert County Courthouse

Tuesday, Jul. 23, 2024

Preview: Crestview Knights basketball

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent sports editor

CONVOY — Two letter winners are back to lead the defending Division IV state champion Crestview Knights this season.

6-8 junior wing Kalen Etzler, who committed to Ohio State earlier this year and 6-2 junior post Carson Kreischer are considered the team’s leaders, stepping in for graduates Javin Etzler, Drew Kline, Wade Sheets, Brant Richardson and Colton Lautzenheiser.

Doug Etzler

“Overall we are pretty inexperienced,” head coach Doug Etzler said. “The guys are working really hard to learn some of the new offensive and defensive things that we are going to do this year, but they are also learning the speed and physicality of varsity basketball. Everything is a little faster at the varsity level, and I have been very pleased with the work ethic they have put forth so far.”

Etzler, a 1991 Crestview standout who went on to play at Ohio State, spent 14 years as the head coach at Division I Teays Valley, compiling a record of 160-152. He was named as Crestview’s new head coach in May, a month after Jeremy Best stepped down.

Along with the younger Etzler and Kreischer, the new coach is working with 6-0 senior post Isaiah LaTurner, 6-2 senior forward Dillon Underwood 6-0 junior foward Brody Brecht. 5-8 senior Kaden Short and 5-10 Michael Joseph are working at the guard spot, along with 5-9 freshman Gavin Etzler and 6-0 sophomore JJ Ward. Also getting looks in scrimmages: 5-8 junior Dmitry Lichtensteiger, 5-11 sophomore guard Rontae Jackson, 5-10 freshman guard Carson Hunter and 6-0 freshman wing Nathan Lichtle.

“Right now we are trying a lot of different combinations to see what works well together,” Etzler explained. “We are looking to see who communicates well and who can remember both our offensive and defensive principles when playing at game speed.”

“As far as new things, we are trying to run several of the offensive sets that Crestview ran last year,” Etzler continued. “We have introduced a new motion offense and have been working on understanding the strengths and weaknesses of our teammates and also being able to read the defense and make cuts according to how we are being played defensively.”

“We have also added a few new sets that I feel fit our personnel. I think Kalen will receive a lot of attention when we are on offense so we are working on going against some junk defenses also.”

The Knights will open the season Friday against Van Wert, with other non-conference games scheduled against Miller City, Parkway, Fort Recovery, Fort Jennings, Delphos St. John’s, Kalida, Celina, Lima Central Catholic, Hicksville, and Wayne Trace. Two new opponents – Tinora and Pandora – are on the non-conference schedule, with both games on the road.

While eyeing this year’s Northwest Conference title race, Etzler said he expects things to be very competitive.

“I would say on paper both Columbus Grove and Bluffton return a lot of veteran players and with that experience, will be very hard to beat,” Etzler said. “But I do think that you better be ready to lace them up and play well, because I think the league is pretty balanced and anyone can beat anyone on any given night.”

Friday’s season opener against Van Wert will air live on WERT 1220AM/104.3FM.

POSTED: 11/27/19 at 4:48 am. FILED UNDER: Sports