John Kurtz

Crestview coach John Kurtz watches the action from the bench during a 67-58 win at Mansfield Christian.

FINDLAY — Crestview’s remarkable boys basketball turnaround under coach John Kurtz didn’t go unnoticed across northwest Ohio.

Kurtz, who piloted the Cougars to a 17-8 record and a berth in the Division III district semifinals, was selected the Northwest District Coach of the Year in Division III when the all-district teams were announced earlier this week.

Kurtz shared the award with Colonel Crawford’s David Sheldon, who led the Eagles to the first unbeaten regular season since 1963.

Crestview’s 17 wins were the most since 2011, when Kurtz led the Cougars to a berth in the district tournament during his first stint with the program.

Several area players earned spots on the all-district first team.

Ashland’s Luke Denbow was a first team pick in Division I after helping the Arrows reach the district semifinals. The 6-foot-1 junior averaged 21.8 points a game.

In Division II, Shelby’s T.J. Pugh and Ontario’s Griffin Shaver both earned spots on the all-district first team. Pugh averaged an area-best 25.6 points a game, leading the Whippets to their first district crown since 1999. Shaver, who will play college football at Division II Ashland University, averaged 16.1 points a night.

Colonel Crawford’s Carter Valentine was a first team pick in Division III. The 6-foot-5 junior swingman averaged 18.9 points a game.

In Division IV, Lucas senior Ethan Sauder earned a spot on the first team. The point guard led Lucas to an unlikely berth in the Division IV Sweet 16, averaging 15.3 points a game. He will graduate as the program’s single-game, single-season and career leader in assists.

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I have covered high school sports in Richland County since 2000. Email him at or follow him on Twitter: Follow @curtjconrad on twitter.

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