NICEVILLE — Dreams of a state championship for the Crestview High School boys basketball team will have to wait for at least another year.
The Bulldogs hosted powerful Oviedo High School team in the Class 7A Region 1 Finals on Saturday at The Arena at Northwest Florida State College.
The Lions got off to a fast start and never looked back as Oviedo rolled to a 76-48 win.
Oviedo (26-4) heads to Thursday’s state tournament finals as the Bulldogs (22-8) saw their best season since 1987 come to an end.
A Rusty Moorer 3-point basket with 4:28 left in the first quarter pulled Crestview to within a point of Oviedo with the score 6-5.
Plagued by numerous turnovers, the Bulldogs didn’t score again in the first as the Lions closed out the period with a 12-0 run to take control of the game.
“I knew that coming in and that we would have to play well,” Bulldog Coach Greg Watson said. “We got off to such a bad start turning the ball over. We let them get out in transition and get the easy ones (baskets).
“We only scored five points in the first quarter and it just makes it hard to come back And then we let No. 2 (Matt Milon) get going and we knew he could really shoot it.”
Back-to-back baskets by Jerry Aaron in the first two minutes of the second quarter cut the Oviedo lead to 18-9.
A Milon basket with 5:14 left in the second quarter gave the Lions a double digit lead they would hold the rest of the game.
Milon’s basket was the first two of 13 points he scored in the second quarter on this way to a game-high 26 points.
Oviedo stretched lead to 39-23 at the half despite Crestview getting 12 points in the period from Aaron and five from Ronnie Baylark.
The Lions led 56-36 at the end of the third quarter and by that then the only question was by how much the Lions would win.
Crestview struggled to stop the backdoor cut by Dexter Graham in the fourth quarter as he burned the Bulldogs with eight of his 18 points and the Lions wrapped up the win.
In the end Oveido had too many weapons. Milon and Graham were joined in double figures in scoring by R.J. June, 18 points and Quay Harper 10 points.
Aaron and Baylark shared the high scoring honors for Crestview with 14 points each. Denzel Ware added eight points and Moorer seven points.
“It’s been a great year,” Watson said. “It ends like this (a loss) for most teams in the state. It’s hard, but these guys had a great year.
“I don’t know how many people thought that they would really be playing (in the region finals) still when we began the year. I’m proud of them.”
The game, which had to be moved to Northwest Florida State because the Crestview gym didn’t meet the 1,100 set requirement set by the Florida High School Athletic Association, was a near sell out in the more than 2,200 seat arena.
“I just want to thank the people of Crestview and the surrounding area that came out and supported us,” Watson said. “It was an unbelievable crowd. It was just an unbelievable turnout.”
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524.