NICEVILLE — Everyone’s dealing with the post-holiday hangover, including the Crestview basketball team.
Mountain View (GA) put a little coal in the Bulldogs’ Christmas stockings, beating Crestview 58-44 in the opening round of the Go Southern Beach Blowout basketball tournament Wednesday night at Raider Arena. The Bulldogs were the defending tournament champions.
Myriad factors contributed to the team’s loss, Bulldog coach Greg Watson said, but most were the result of a little too much time off.
“We didn’t shoot it well,” Watson said. “Having a long break and then to come back and play in an arena-type setting with the background a little different, I kinda felt like we might not be able to shoot it well.”
What Watson anticipated and what came to pass were largely the same after the first four minutes of play.
Instead of a sluggish start, both teams came out hot, trading buckets. Crestview (7-2) won the tipoff and Jaden Voisin put the ball in the basket only seconds later with a quick turnaround jumper. The Bears answered with a quick 3-pointer before Voisin buried his second bucket of the night at the basket.
After two more buckets at the basket and two 3’s, the Bulldogs had built a commanding 14-7 early lead. They scored only eight more points the rest of the half, as Mountain View (10-2) clamped down. The Bears were aggressive on the offensive glass, routinely out jumping the Bulldogs for rebounds, and they mostly took away Crestview’s ability to throw the ball into the post. Several early possessions ended with a Mountain View player ripping the ball away from Crestview.
Wednesday’s victory marked the Bears’ second against teams in the Daily News coverage area in a week. They beat Choctaw 73-59 on Thursday, snapping the Indians seven-game win streak to start the season.
“They did a good job,” Watson said. “They’re well coached. I think they beat Choctaw by 15 or something last week. We’re right there with ’em until the middle of the fourth.”
Crestview entered the fourth quarter trailing 38-34. That deficit had increased to 49-40 with three minutes left. Junior guard Chris Basil sank a pair of free throws to cut into the lead, then watched as Bears Spencer Rogers and Naheim Allenye ran the two-man break away right through the Bulldogs press defense for points at the other end.
Allenye ran the same play with Kevin Kayongo for Mountain View’s final points of the game. Kayongo slammed the ball home and slammed the door on Crestview.
“We kinda had to press ’em, and we were a little bit gassed,” Watson said. “It kinda got out of hand right then.”
D’Marcus Purcell, who leads Crestview averaging 21.9 points per game, was held to only 10 points. Voisin led the Bulldogs on Wednesday with 13 points. Allenye led all scorers with 18 points.
The loss snaps Crestview’s five-game win streak. Its only other loss came Dec. 4 on the road against Pensacola 65-63.
“I’d rather play a game like this than beat someone by 20 this time of year,” Watson said. “We struggled in some games early, but basketball’s a tournament sport, and February is when you want to play your best basketball, so games like this can do nothing but help us.”
The Bears advance to play the winner of the Rutherford-Calloway County game at 8:30 p.m. Thursday in the semifinal. Crestview moves to the consolation bracket where it will play the loser of the Rutherford-Calloway County game at 5:30 p.m. Thursday.
Watson said with the tournament championship now out of reach, the Bulldogs’ focus shifts.
“The goal is to just get better every game,” Watson said. “Win or lose, we’re just focused on getting better every day and every game.”