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Crestwood finds chemistry, continues hot streak

Crestwood finds chemistry, continues hot streak


By Tom Nader

Publisher and Editor

So much has changed for the Crestwood boys basketball team over the last 357 days.

Crestwood senior Charlie Schweickert puts up a shot fake against a Cardinal defender during Friday’s game in Mantua.
Sheila Mathers/Special to Portage Sports

To rewind for a second, when the Red Devils lost to the Cardinal Huskies for the second time last season, on Feb. 3, 2023, the loss dropped the team to 4-14 overall.

Crestwood went on to win just one more game and finished the 2022-23 season with a 5-17 mark.

Nearly a year to the day, facing the Huskies for the second time this season, the entire viewpoint is much different for the Red Devils.

All of the reasons why were on display once again on Friday night during a 62-37 home victory over the Huskies.

The night started slow for the Devils, who struggled to find their offensive chemistry, leading to more turnovers in the first half (14) than they average for an entire game.

“At halftime, we talked to the players and they owned the sloppy start,” veteran Crestwood head coach Josh Jakacki said. “I thought they came out in the second half and played way more relaxed and with far more urgency.”

It is all part of the learning process Jakacki is guiding the group through.

Crestwood is in the midst of a bounce-back season, with its sights set on the opportunity to stay in the hunt for the Chagrin Valley Conference championship, but the team’s journey still includes many new situations for a team that won just six games combined over the previous two seasons.

Simply put, the fact that Crestwood is 13-2 overall and 8-0 in the CVC, following Friday’s win, is new territory for the group.

Crestwood freshman Brody Durham dribbles into the lane during the second half of Friday’s game in Mantua.
Sheila Mathers/Special to Portage Sports

“We are climbing the ladder, which has repeatedly placed our guys into new experiences,” Jakacki said. “It feels different to them right now because it is different. The expectations for our team have changed and that is a good thing. We have to remind ourselves of that. We have a different view right now, and we have to embrace the challenges it took to get here, and we have to embrace the challenges that await us.”

Though they held a 25-15 advantage at halftime, Friday’s challenge was to clean up a sloppy first half and play more like the team that has allowed them to win 12-of-14 games this season.

It didn’t take long for Crestwood’s second-half offense to find its form.

Ball movement and aggressive attacks to the bask allowed the Devils to find their rhythm and extend the lead to 43-29 after the third quarter. A quick start to the fourth quarter distanced Crestwood’s lead further, outscoring the Huskies (4-12, 0-6 CVC) 19-8 over the final 8 minutes.

The moving basketball and trusting style put four different Crestwood players in double-digits, with a fifth player just a point away from joining the group.

Junior Dekota Johnson, who was recognized earlier this week for scoring his 1,000th career point, led the Devils in scoring with 18 points. Freshman Brody Durham and senior Charlie Schweickert each added 11 points, while junior Steven Lincoln had 10. Junior James Durham scored nine points, while also pulling down a game-high 14 rebounds.

Red Devils junior Dekota Johnson advances the ball up the court.
Sheila Mathers/Special to Portage Sports

Schweickert also had a double-double, adding 10 rebounds.

While the offense found its flow, Crestwood’s defense was equally as impressive.

Cardinal struggled to get consistently clean looks throughout the game — and the Devils’ on-ball, full-court pressure continually sped up the Huskies and kept them from running clean offensive sets in the halfcourt.

For the game, the Huskies (4-12, 0-6 CVC) connected on just 16-of-54 shots (30 percent). They were 3-of-8 (38 percent) on free throws and only 2-for-24 on 3s (8 percent).

Cal Cimenello and Troy Domen each scored 16 points to lead the Huskies.

Crestwood’s Jimmy Peters shoots a first-half free throw, while the Crestwood Crazies student section looks on.
Sheila Mathers/Special to Portage Sports

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