Crestview’s perfect season ends in OT

CORTLAND — Scoring just two points in the first quarter and trailing by nine wasn’t where the Crestview Lady Rebels wanted to be in their Division III, Cortland District championship matchup on Saturday.

However, the Rebels battled back, time and again, in an instant classic. Unfortunately, for Crestview, their opponent, the Keystone Wildcats, came out on top 40-33 in overtime.

“I’m really proud of our kids,” Crestview coach Aaron Blatch said. “I’m sorry that we didn’t get it done. I don’t know if our preparation was what it needed to be. Give Keystone a ton of credit. They played extremely well. It’s just disappointing that we couldn’t pull it out.”

It was disappointing on a number of levels. Especially after the Rebels tied it up 13-13 at halftime, and forced overtime on a buzzer-beater by Luvrain Gaskins (12 points).

The Wildcats took a 27-24 lead before Addison Rhodes (game-high 14 points) just missed from downtown as the third quarter clock expired.

Senior Emily Downey scored to start the fourth. Freshman Bri Dicross scrambled to the floor for a loose ball, and she got the assist when Downey nailed a 3-pointer from the corner to give the Rebels a 29-27 lead with three minutes remaining in regulation. Keystone tied it back up.

Then, Rhodes drove to the hoop, with six seconds left, after the Wildcats grabbed a two-point advantage. Rhodes missed her attempt, but Gaskins followed up and the teams played four extra minutes.

Vivian Cassell (team-high 13 points) was able to score in the extra session, and Crestview didn’t have another comeback left in the tank.

It was the first district title since 2012 for Keystone (26-0) and the first 22-0 regular season finish in Lorain County history.

“Our team played amazing tonight,” said Keystone coach Rocky Houston. “Crestview was undefeated for a reason. Vivian didn’t disappoint tonight. She worked hard.

“Addison Rhodes hit some step-back three-pointers. That’s tough to stop. She’s so good on the perimeter. She’s so quick. We wanted to keep her out of the paint, and make her put up some tough shots. We got a ton of rebounds tonight. We helped out on the bigs. I’m so amazed by how hard our girls work. They compete. Nothing phases them.”

It wasn’t the way Crestview (25-1) wanted their season to come to an end. Their last loss came in this very game a season ago, after completing the first undefeated regular season in program history.

“Our girls have been tremendous,” Blatch said. “I’m really proud of what they’ve accomplished throughout the year and in this tournament run. We’ve got to keep getting better, and hopefully build off of this.”

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