By Sara Welch | Correspondent
By recognizing their strengths and taking away Waterloo's bread-and-butter, the Crestwood Red Devils improved their record to 5-3 after securing a 63-46 victory Friday night in a Portage Trail Conference cross-division matchup in Atwater.
The Red Devils tried to run away with the game early in the first quarter, but the Vikings (1-7) continuously fought to keep pace, as they would throughout the entire game. Trailing 15-13 with just seconds to go in the first quarter, Waterloo managed to tie the score just before time expired when Collin Michaelec pulled down an offensive rebound, was fouled and went 2-of-2 from the charity stripe.
"This game looked like a lot of Waterloo games," Crestwood head coach Al Mielcarek said. "Other teams will get a spurt like we did, but Waterloo always manages to hang around in games. I give their coaches credit because they never quit and they play hard the entire game. That was typical tonight.
"We made that stretch, but we couldn't totally put them away because they kept the game close. It was a typical Waterloo never-quit attitude. We only won the second half by three points and I give Waterloo credit for sticking in the game and playing hard. They get the most out of their guys."
The Vikings managed to match Crestwood's scoring in the first quarter as a result of the success they found outside the 3-point arc. Bob Watson drained three 3-pointers and Tom Saviers added one. Watson and Saviers finished as the high scorers for Waterloo with 13 points each.
Crestwood increased its defensive pressure and challenged outside shots in the second quarter, while capitalizing on its size advantage in the post.
"Knowing that we're going to be bigger than everybody nine times out of 10, we have to take advantage of that. That's something that we have and we have to utilize," Mielcarek said. "As long as the post play steps up and takes advantage of the rebounding, takes advantage of shot blocking and inside scoring, that makes our play more effective. Trevor (Sweet) and Jimmy (Quesenberry) are two guys we count on."
As a team, the Red Devils outrebounded the Vikings 18-9 in the first half and 17-14 in the second half. Sweet and Quesenberry each accounted for eight rebounds. Sweet finished the night with 11 points, while Quesenberry led Crestwood with 22 points.
"Jimmy Quesenberry had his best game of his career tonight," Mielcarek said. "It wasn't just the fact he had a lot of points, it was that he was always in the right spot to get those points. He was an active rebounder. He put back a lot of shots and controlled a lot of stuff inside the paint. When one of our posts has a big game, usually the other one feeds off of him, and tonight Jimmy's play definitely helped our team."
Jacob Graves finished the game with 12 points for Crestwood and gave his team a different kind of advantage. Graves was able to use his quickness and ball-handling ability to cut through the defense and penetrate to the basket.
"We tried to get Jacob Graves into some isolations in the first half and I think he did a good job of going to the hole," Mielcarek said. "This is one of the better games he's had as a leader out there. When we went to him offensively, he did well and was able to get to the basket and get some points for us."