CRESTVIEW — The Crestview High School boys basketball fought off a sluggish star to take a 72-54 win over District 1-7A foe Tate on Friday.
Perhaps it was the Bulldogs were suffering a hangover from their win over Fort Walton Beach on Tuesday. Or maybe the Crestview players were already thinking about Christmas as the holidays started Friday.
Whatever the reason for the slow start Bulldog coach Greg Watson, while happy with the win, was not happy with the way his team played.
"It was just a very frustrating night," he said. "We didn't play well defensively. Offensively we had too many sloppy turnovers.
"We couldn't make a shot. It just seemed like everything was going wrong. But right there in the fourth quarter we made some big plays."
Several times throughout the game it seemed as if the Bulldogs (7-1, 3-0) were on the brink of putting the game out of the reach of the Aggies.
Crestview's big man tandem of Denzel Ware and Jerry Siler gave the Bulldogs a quick boost in the first quarter. Ware and Siler each scored four points in the first quarter helping Crestview to a 15-8 lead at the end of the period.
Three free throws by Wesley St. Vil with 5:31 left in the first half pushed the Bulldog lead to 19-10.
Tate then went on a 10-2 run thanks in part to sloppy passing and ball handling by the Bulldogs.
Christian Cass sparked the Aggie run scoring seven of his 13 points in a span of 100 seconds. Two Cass free throws with 3:15 left in the half pulled Tate to within a point of Crestview at 21-20.
A 3-point basket by Rusty Moorer pushed the Bulldog lead back to 24-20. A Ronnie Baylark basket with 1:28 left in the half pushed the Crestview lead to six points.
Tate pulled to within three of the Bulldogs on a 3-pointer by Danny Cafarella with 25 seconds left in the half. But Siler hit a basket as the quarter ended to put the Bulldogs up 33-28 at the half.
Ware scored on a 3-point play for Crestview to open the second half and the Aggies never got closer than six points the rest of the way.
Aaron and Baylark shared high-scoring honors with 18 points each. Ware joined them in double figures with 14 points. St. Vil had 9 points and Moorer seven points.
"You are not going to play your best every night and I realize that," Watson said. "But effort wise I felt like in the first half we were nonchalant and we were sloppy with the ball. I felt like we were starting to turn the page and then we took as step back.
"Luckily, Ronnie made some big plays in the second half and we kind of got Denzel going so that was a good thing."
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524.