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by Sara Welch | Correspondent
Streetsboro -- Crestwood tasted redemption in its last regular-season game against the Streetsboro boys basketball team, defeating the Rockets by a narrow score of 36-35 on Streetsboro's hardwood in a Portage Trail Conference Metro Division matchup Feb. 22.
"We tell these guys, 'A season is a marathon; it's not a sprint,'" Red Devils head coach Al Mielcarek said. "We lost 11 in a row and it was hard to come back motivated every day and keep going. This says that the seniors never wanted to give up on us. I think this is a win for them. They worked hard for it."
Crestwood shot out to an early 5-0 lead, but the Rockets responded with a 19-2 run that continued it into the second quarter.
Devin Rencher swayed momentum Streetsboro's way when he stole the ball at half court and finished with a dunk at the other end of the floor. Rencher finished as the Rockets' high scorer with 12 points.
Streetsboro's quick transition offense rolled over the Red Devils' defense until the halftime break, burying Crestwood beneath an 11-point deficit.
Many of Streetsboro's transition opportunities were a result of Dorian Williams' defensive effort. While he only finished with six points, Williams may have been the Rockets' Most Valuable Player with 10 of the team's 19 steals for the night.
"His [Williams'] effort defensively was unbelievable. He was everywhere," Rockets head coach Nick Marcini said. "If he didn't get a steal, he got a deflection. He was even good on the break.
"He was doing some things offensively as well. He was attacking and making things happen for us. I can't say enough about him. He was unbelievable."
The Red Devils started the third quarter with a 6-1 run. However, this time, their offensive and defensive efforts would sustain throughout the half, holding Streetsboro (11-11, 10-4) to only six points in both the third and fourth quarters.
Led by Trevor Sweet, who pulled down 11 of his 16 rebounds in the second half, Crestwood outrebounded the Rockets' 22 to eight.
Crestwood wore the 11-point deficit down to only a single point with 1:48 left on the clock after Jacob Klock went 2-for-2 at the charity stripe. Sweet gave the Red Devils their first lead of the night following a perfect trip to the line with 39.6 seconds left.
"He has [Klock] played football and he's played basketball his whole life, so I have all the confidence he's not going to get too nervous at the line," Mielcarek said. "He's one of the guys I want up there."
Brandon Gency managed to regain the lead for the Rockets with 18 seconds left, but one last flawless trip to the free throw line before time expired sealed the deal for Crestwood.
The Red Devils were perfect from the line in the second half as a result of Klock's and Sweet's efforts. The pair finished as the high scorers for Crestwood with eight points apiece.
Streetsboro posted a 62-33 win in the junior varsity contest. Reggie Dublin and Jerry Judd each had 10 points for the Rockets.
Despite concluding the regular season on a four-game losing streak, Streetsboro is looking forward to the postseason.
"It has been and up and down year for us," Marcini said. "Crestwood had a good game plan. They came in and executed The seniors they worked hard all year. The next game we play is for a championship. We'll have a bad memory of [Feb. 22], but we have to work to plug ahead and try to win a sectional championship."