The Van Wert County Courthouse

Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023

Wednesday was National Signing Day and six Van Wert High School senior football players signed letters of intent to play collegiate football. From left to right are Logan Dotson (University of Findlay), Damon McCracken (Walsh University), Carson Smith, Garett Gunter and Maddix Crutchfield (USF) and Aidan Pratt (University of Findlay). Scott Truxell/Van Wert independent

POSTED: 02/01/23 at 7:01 pm. FILED UNDER: Sports

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent editor

Tuesday night’s game between Van Wert and Delphos St. John’s certainly had its ups and downs.

Behind eight points by Aidan Pratt and a pair of baskets each by Nate Phillips and Garett Gunter, the Cougars raced out to a 16-7 lead after one quarter, and a bucket by Pratt with five minutes left in the second quarter put Van Wert ahead 22-9. Pratt went on to finish with a team high 21 points.

Garett Gunter (10) goes to the basket for two of his 13 points vs. Delphos St. John’s. Bob Barnes/Van Wert independent

“The game was kind of a roller coaster,” Van Wert head coach Ben Laudick said. “We started off really well then we got down then we fought back into it and once again, that’s the resiliency of our guys. I was hoping the outcome would be different but this is kind of the game I envisioned – a very close one or two possession game.”

The Blue Jays (12-4) responded with a 20-0 scoring run that spanned the remainder of the second quarter and the first half of the third quarter. During the second quarter portion of the run, Delphos St. John’s hit four consecutive triples – two by Cameron Elwer and one each by Landen Grothaus and Jack Gerker, all in the span of roughly 90 seconds. Elwer put the Blue Jays on top 23-22 at halftime, then scored the first six points of the third quarter to increase the lead to 29-22. The freshman guard went to finish with a game high 22 points.

The Cougars ended the scoring drought with a pair of foul shots by Pratt at the 4:12 mark of the third quarter. Van Wert ended the period on a 7-0 run, including a steal and layup by AJ Proffitt that put the Cougars ahead, 34-33 at the end of the quarter.

Van Wert (10-7) expanded the lead to 38-33 early in the fourth quarter when Gunter scored back-to-back baskets but the Blue Jays answered the bell again with an 8-0 run, including a pair of triples by Austin Moenter, his only two baskets of the game.


POSTED: 02/01/23 at 4:40 am. FILED UNDER: Sports

VW independent sports

CONVOY — It was a tale of two halves between Crestview and Celina on Tuesday.

The first half was a 20-20 stalemate between the two teams but Knights outscored the visitors 36-7 in the second half for a 56-27 victory at Ray Etzler Gymnasium.

Cali Gregory scored 23 of her 32 points in the second half. The 5-10 junior guard put in 10 points in the third quarter then 13 more in the final period. Kyilla Billingsley led Celina with six points.

Crestview (14-4) will host Ottoville on Thursday.

POSTED: 02/01/23 at 4:39 am. FILED UNDER: Sports

VW independent sports

The Van Wert boys lit up Olympic Lanes against Kenton on Monday, taking down the Wildcats 2855-2556.

Tristian Blackmore led the Cougars with a two-game series of 423, while Hayden Davis added a 404 series. Nevin Pierce recorded a 383 series, followed by Logan Sutton (378) and Christian German (365). The victory improved Van Wert’s WBL record to 4-4.

The Cougar JV squads both defeated the Kenton Wildcats for a clean sweep on the night.

POSTED: 02/01/23 at 4:39 am. FILED UNDER: Sports

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent editor

This week’s edition of Random Thoughts centers around a new three point record, Crestview and the polls, Richmond Heights, National Signing Day and the Cincinnati Bengals.


Congratulations to Crestview’s Nate Lichtle, who broke the 30-plus year school record for three pointers in a game.

Lichtle shot the lights out (literally) by going 10-of-12 from beyond the three point arc. It’s all an amazing feat and the previous record holder got to see it firsthand. Head coach Doug Etzler had the previous record of nine, which he accomplished twice during his junior season.


It’s a nice honor for both teams.

The Crestview Knights moved up one spot to No. 4 in this week’s Associated Press Division IV poll. The Knights trail only Richmond Heights (unanimous No. 1), Jackson Center and Leesburg Fairfield.

In the girls’ poll, Crestview is tied for 10th with New Middletown Springfield.

Richmond Heights

As mentioned earlier, Richmond Heights is the unanimous No. 1 team in Division IV in the latest AP poll.

Here’s an eye-popping score – the defending state champions beat Edgewood 124-39 on Friday. 124-39 with a running clock. It’s not like Edgewood is struggling – the Warriors (Division II) entered the game 9-6.

National Signing Day

Tomorrow is National Signing Day and while it’s an exciting day for high school student-athletes signing letters of intent to play collegiate sports, remember that it’s also the most overrated day in sports, especially at the major Division I level.


POSTED: 01/31/23 at 4:41 am. FILED UNDER: Sports

VW independent sports

Parkway 49 Van Wert 44

ROCKFORD — Gabi Stober scored 23 points and Allison Hughes added 10 points and an amazing 26 rebounds, and Parkway held off Van Wert 49-44 on Monday.

The Panthers led 13-8 after the first quarter and 24-17 at halftime. The lead was 12, 40-28 after three quarters, but Van Wert trimmed it to three, 45-42, with just over a minute left in the game. Kyra Welch scored 10 of her 16 points in the fourth quarter, and Sayler Wise it a pair of treys in the final period and finished with nine points. Sofi Houg added 12 points for Van Wert, including six in the third quarter.

Both teams will hit the road Thursday night. Van Wert (10-9) will travel to Kenton and Parkway (17-2) will play at New Bremen.

Lincolnview 50 Fort Jennings 25

Lincolnview’s Emerson Walker put on quite a show by pouring in 29 points in three quarters to lead the Lancers to a 50-25 win over Fort Jennings on Monday. It was the fourth straight win by Lincolnview (11-8).

Emerson scored nine points in the opening quarter and the Lancers barged out to a 15-4 lead by the end of the period. She added eight more in the second quarter and Lincolnview enjoyed a 27-11 halftime lead. Walker accounted for 12 of her team’s 16 third quarter points and Lincolnview carried a commanding 43-21 lead into the final period.

Lydia Dickman led Fort Jennings (3-17) with six points.

Lincolnview will host Delphos Jefferson on Thursday.

POSTED: 01/31/23 at 4:40 am. FILED UNDER: Sports

This rather large Lego Ohio Stadium can be seen at the Thompson Library at Ohio State University. It’s part of the special “A Walk in Our ‘Shoe: 100 Years of Ohio Stadium” exhibit. The Lego Ohio Stadium, which takes up the better part of a typical room, was constructed by Professor Paul Janssen. Other items on display include football uniforms and gear from the 1920s and 1930s, a goal post piece from the 1955 Rose Bowl and Woody Hayes’ playbook. The exhibit is free and open to all until February 26. Scott Truxell/Van Wert independent

POSTED: 01/31/23 at 4:40 am. FILED UNDER: Sports

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent editor

CONVOY — To say Crestview’s Nate Lichtle had the hot hand against Hicksville is a big understatement.

The 6-2 senior guard set a single-game school record by converting 10-of-12 three point attempts in a 70-31 win over the Aces at Ray Etzler Gymnasium on Saturday. He eclipsed the previous record of nine set by current head coach Doug Etzler and he ended the game with 30 points. It was the 12th straight victory by the No. 5 Knights (15-1).

Nate Lichtle (25) and head coach Doug Etzler embrace after Lichtle broke Etzler’s record for threes in a single game. Photo courtesy of Lisa Etzler

“I thought we had some advantages inside which caused them to double team a little bit and I thought we did a great job of skipping the ball, attacking their close outs and taking catch and shoot threes, and obviously Nate had it going on tonight,” Etzler said afterward. “Credit our guys – we had a guy that had it going and they got him the ball. That’s the unselfishness that we have on our squad and if we can continue to do that, we have good guys inside, we have good guys who can shoot on the outside and as long as we take good shots we like our chances.”

Lichtle hit his first trey in the opening quarter, and Wren Sheets and Gavin Etzler combined for 10 points to help give the Knights a 15-13 lead at the end of the period. Lichtle then hit four more triples in the second quarter and Crestview raced to a 35-18 halftime lead. He added four more in the third quarter to tie the record. He broke it with a trey from the top of the key less than 20 seconds into the final period.

Sheets finished with 12 points while Gavin Etzler, who hit a pair of triples, finished with 10 points. As a team, the Knights were 12-of-22 from three point range and 27-of-43 overall from the floor. In addition, Crestview hit 4-of-9 foul shots, enjoyed a 22-13 rebounding advantage and committed just seven turnovers.

Aaron Klima led Hicksville with 13 points, while Jayden Rosalez had eight points. The Aces were 11-of-32 shooting and 8-of-13 from the foul line with 13 turnovers.


POSTED: 01/30/23 at 4:40 am. FILED UNDER: Sports

VW independent sports

Girls basketball sectional pairings were set on Sunday, using the Martin RPI computer rankings for the first time.

Division II

Kyra Welch and the Cougars will face St. Marys Memorial in the Division II sectional semifinals. Bob Barnes/file photo

Van Wert (10-8) will play St. Marys Memorial (11-8) in the Division II sectional semifinals at 6 p.m. Thursday, February 16, at Bluffton High School. The two teams met in a WBL game on January 12, with the Lady Riders winning 43-35. The winner of the tournament game will return to play No. 4 seed Fostoria (16-1) in the sectional finals at 12 p.m. Saturday, February 18, with the winner of that game advancing to the district semifinals at Paulding High School.

The Cougars are the No. 6 seed according to the Martin RPI rankings, while the Lady Riders are the No. 5 seed. Liberty-Benton (16-1) is the No. 1 seed, followed by Bryan (16-2), Bath (16-4), Fostoria, St. Marys Memorial, Van Wert, Elida (10-9), Kenton (8-11), Shawnee (7-10), Celina (4-13) and Defiance (1-16).

Division IV

Crestview is the No. 1 seed in the Division IV Defiance district, while Lincolnview is the No. 5 seed, according to the Martin RPI rankings.

Crestview (13-4) will face No. 13 seed Fayette (2-16) in the sectional semifinals at 6 p.m. Wednesday, February 15, at Paulding High School, with the winner advancing to play No. 12 seed North Central (2-15) in the sectional championship game at 6 p.m. Saturday, February 18.

Lincolnview (10-8) chose a first round bye and will face the winner of February 15 game between No. 10 seed Edgerton (3-15) and No. 3 seed Stryker (15-3) at 6 p.m. February 18 at Bryan High School.

After Crestview, Ayersville (13-3) is the second seed, followed by Stryker, Hilltop (13-5), Lincolnview, Pettisville (11-8), Antwerp (9-8), Montelier (9-10), Edon (5-14), Edgerton, Hicksville (2-16), North Central and Fayette.

POSTED: 01/30/23 at 4:40 am. FILED UNDER: Sports

VW independent sports

NAPOLEON — Van Wert’s boys’ swim team finished fifth and the girls’ team eighth at the Western Buckeye League Championships, held at Napoleon High School on Saturday.

Wapakoneta won the boys’ championship, while Ottawa-Glandorf took home the girls’ title. Shawnee took runner-up for the boys and girls events.

Haley Chiles is all smiles with her medals from her 200 freestyle and 500 freestyle races. Photo submitted

Girls results (all distances in yards)

200 Medley Relay: 8th (2:17.45 –Gracie Mull, Tyra McClain, Mandy Burenga, Haley Chiles)
200 Freestyle: 2nd (2:06.64 – Haley Chiles), 12th 2:28.60 – Lilie Mull), 13th (2:29.16 – Gracie Mull)
50 Freestyle: 12th (28.99 – Tyra McClain), 19th (31.19 – Mandy Burenga), 21st (32.03 –Sophie Gearhart), 34th (36.13 – Kailey Blythe)
100 Freestyle: 13th (1:05.32 – Tyra McClain), 19th (1:10.56 – Katie Kramer), 22nd (1:13.69 – Sophie Gearhart), 32nd (1:21.58 – Kailey Blythe)
500 Freestyle: 1st (5:43.18 – Haley Chiles)
200 Freestyle Relay: 9th (2:04.48 –Lilie Mull, Mandy Burenga, Sophie Gearhart, Gracie Mull)
100 Backstroke: 13th (1:19.11 – Gracie Mull), 15th (1:20.85 – Lilie Mull), 17th (1:23..78 – Katie Kramer)
100 Breaststroke: 21st (1:32.80 –Mandy Burenga)
400 Freestyle Relay: 5th (4:22.63 – Tyra McClain, Lilie Mull, Haley Chiles, Katie Kramer)

Boys results (all distances in yards)


POSTED: 01/30/23 at 4:39 am. FILED UNDER: Sports