CRESTLINE — Colonel Crawford boys basketball coach David Sheldon expressed gratitude for the simple fact that his team had the chance to play a game on Wednesday evening, never mind winning it in convincing fashion.
Powered by 20 points from junior Carter Valentine, 18 points by junior Mason Studer, and 10 points from junior Carson Feichtner, the Eagles (1-0) cruised to a 68-23 victory against Crestline.
“It’s just great for these kids, just an opportunity to compete,” Sheldon said. “You look at what we did in the fall with our football season (Eagles were a Div. VI, Region 22 semifinalist) and you just want to continue to do that. I’m happy that we’re able to compete.”
As pleased as he was with the result against Crestline, Sheldon was quick to point out that his squad — along with the other winter sports teams around Ohio — faces an unseen foe in the form of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“We just want to play games when we have an opportunity,” Sheldon said. “Our big talk is we gotta be smart off the floor. You gotta follow (health guidelines). That’s our big talk. We’re stressing that to people that we need to do that.”
Wednesday’s dominating performance became even more impressive after Sheldon revealed that last Saturday was the first time he’d had his entire roster together following multiple periods of quarantine.
“Proud of our effort, especially at the defensive end,” he said. “I think you see that physicalness from our football team come out. Of my top eight (players), six of the eight are football players. This is going to be one of our most physical teams. That’s what started everything for our offense, what happened at the defensive end.”
Indeed, tenacious defense definitely set the tone for the night as Colonel Crawford raced to a 21-7 lead after one period of play, then pushed that advantage to 35-9 at halftime. The Eagles held the Bulldogs scoreless for nearly five minutes to open the game while building a 13-0 lead that they would not surrender. The Eagles put up 21 points again in the third period and held a 56-15 heading into the final quarter.
Chase Walker added eight points for the Eagles. Mason McKibben has six. Drayton Burkhart chipped in four and Nolan McKibben added two points.
Senior Brock Noblit led Crestline (0-1) with nine points. Junior Connor Lusk and senior Ethan Clark had four points apiece. Junior Josh Hall and senior Calvin Reed scored three points each.
Crestline coach Tyler Sanders pulled no punches in expressing his disappointment with his team’s performance, noting that a Thanksgiving Day practice was in their immediate future.
“It’s 100% inexcusable and we’re going to correct it tomorrow (Thursday) at 7 a.m. It’s just the way it’s gonna be,” Sanders said. “That’s the Crestline of old. We went 13-11 last year. I told my kids my expectation is for us to be good. We have expectations to win 15, 16 basketball games this year, win the conference. I know it’s Colonel Crawford, and this is a good Colonel Crawford team. I’m not taking anything away from Coach Sheldon because he does a great job and those are good players, those are good kids.
“But what they did tonight was they outworked us, they out-hustled us, and they just proved that you don’t have to have five kids who are overly talented, you just have to have five kids who are willing to work as hard as they did. That team is going to win 18, 19 games again this year because they work really hard.”
Colonel Crawford plays host to Collins Western Reserve on Saturday in the home opener for the Eagles.
Crestline is scheduled to play at Buckeye Central on Saturday in another all-Crawford County match-up for the Bulldogs.