SALEM - St. Thomas Aquinas' pressure got to Crestview early and often, and it proved to be more than the Rebels could handle on Tuesday as the Knights won 65-42 to move on to the Salem Division III district championship.
"I certainly don't feel like that was our best performance," Crestview head coach Herman Miller said. "But (Aquinas) definitely had something to do with that."
Aquinas grabbed the momentum early, as Tyler Moeglin's 3-pointer was followed up by a steal and a bucket by Connor Duplin off the Rebels' inbounds pass. Crestview's Adam Coppock split a pair of free throws to put the Rebels on the board, but a quick layup in transition by Moeglin put Aquinas up 7-1 and forced Miller to take a timeout just two minutes into the game.
"I guess we guessed right a couple of times," Aquinas coach Joe Harold said. "We got a couple of easy scores off that. But we saw them down 15-0 against Rootstown and they made that up, so we knew we couldn't let up."
The Rebels settled down and adjusted to the press, but never could get into a flow on offense.
"They're very disruptive," Miller said of the Knights' defense. "Their style of defense lends itself to that. But after the opening minutes, our boys recognized what it took to break (their press)."
Meanwhile, Aquinas was lighting up the scoreboard - connecting on nine three-pointers in the game, including four from Connor Duplin, who finished with 16 points.
"Aquinas shot the ball very well tonight," Miller said. "We did a lot of scouting on them, and that's as fine as I've ever seen them shoot. We missed two or three point-blank ... and they made a lot of shots."
Crestview senior C.J. Collins led the Rebels with 11 points and 8 rebounds, while senior Tom Oliver added 10 points. Nate Climo had three steals and Dillon Gorby dished out three assists.
In addition to Duplin's 16, Adam Piciacchia added 10 and Moeglin scored 9.
"That's one of our better complete games, as far as execution goes," Harold said. "It's nice to be playing our best basketball right now."
The Knights will play Springfield Local at 7 p.m. Friday for the district title.
"These first three (tournament) games, I don't ever call them big games," Harold said. "The first three are to get to the big game. Then they're all big after that.
"Springfield is very athletic. Their tall players are very skilled-they handle the ball well and shoot well. Crestview is very athletic, but Springfield matches that athleticism-with more skill."
The game was a measure of revenge for the Knights. In the Div. V football playoffs in the fall, the Rebels beat the Knights 41-20 in a second round game.
ST. THOMAS: 16-15-17-17-65
LOUISVILLE ST. THOMAS AQUINAS SCORING: Matt Steel 0 0-0 0, Jay Bond 2 1-2 5, Will Burger 1 2-4 4, Tyler Moeglin 4 0-0 9, Vince Fisher 0 0-0 0, Anthony Snyder 2 0-0 5, Sean Dempsey 3 3-4 9, Matt Gensley 1 0-0 2, Connor Duplin 6 0-0 16, Sam Pusateri 1 0-0 2, Adam Piciacchia 3 2-2 10, Joe Huberty 1 0-0 3. TEAM TOTALS: 24, 8-12: 65.
CRESTVIEW SCORING: Dillon Gorby 0 0-2 0, Nate Climo 2 0-0 2, Zach Thompson 0 0-0 0, Collin Gilbert 0 0-0 0, Andrew Batchelor 2 0-0 2, Adam Coppock 3 0-0 7, C.J. Collins 4 3-10 11, Tom Oliver 3 3-4 10, Austin Eskra 0 0-0 0, Robert Logan 2 0-0 4, Derek Bable 0 0-0 0, Brandon Brooks 2 0-0 6. TEAM TOTALS: 16, 6-16: 42.
Three-point goals: Crestview 4 (Brooks 2, Oliver, Coppock), Louisville St. Thomas Aquinas 9 (Duplin 4, Piciacchia 2, Moeglin, Snyder, Huberty).