CRESTVIEW — Crestview High School's boys basketball team jumped to a quick 13-0 lead over Milton on Friday and never looked back.
When the final horn sounded, the Bulldogs walked off the court with a 67-52 win over the Panthers.
Crestview (12-2) could do nothing wrong in an impressive opening run.
Josh Hinton scored the game's first basket with just 10 seconds off the clock, giving the Bulldogs a lead they wouldn't relinquish the rest of the game.
A pair of Ronnie Baylark 3-point baskets pushed the lead to 8-0. Denzel Ware finished off the run, scoring five points on a basket and a 3-point play with 3:30 left in the quarter.
The game seemed to be out of reach when Andre Flakes scored the first Panther basket of the game with 2:59 left in the first quarter.
Crestview led 23-6 at the end of the first quarter as Baylark had 10 of his game-high 22 points and Ware had nine of his 15 points.
With the Bulldogs up by 17 points, it seemed as if it was just a matter of time before they pushed the lead to 35 points to force the running clock in the second half.
That wasn't to be the case, as the Panthers refused to go quietly into the early-January night.
Crestview Coach Greg Watson was pleased with the win, but disappointed that the Bulldogs didn't put the Panthers away quickly.
"We got complacent in the second quarter and ... in the fourth quarter," he said. "We play well in stretches, but we have to develop that killer instinct, and that's what I keep preaching to the guys. Until we do that, anything can happen.
"They cut it to (11) there at the end, when it should have been 15 or 16 points. That's three possessions from losing. It's just one of those things of learning how to close a game out."
Bobby Green caught fire for Milton in the second quarter, scoring eight of his team-leading 14 points. But even with Green leading the charge and Milton scoring 18 second-quarter points, the Panthers were only able to trim two points off the Bulldog lead.
The one glitch at the scoring table in the second quarter came when three points were taken from the Bulldogs. Officials and scorekeepers conferred at halftime and Crestview was awarded one more point.
The problem seemed to arise when the official scorer's view was blocked on a second quarter basket by Ware. The scoring error was corrected after the game.
Crestview led 39-24 at the half and maintained a double-digit lead throughout the final two quarters.
Milton did go on a 6-0 run with less than two minutes left in the game, cutting Crestview's lead to 11 points with 51 seconds left in the game.
Baylark closed out the Bulldog win with four free throws in the fourth quarter's final 33 seconds.
Part of the Bulldog letdown in the third quarter might have been related to Ware being in foul trouble, but Watson didn't see that as an excuse for Crestview's inability to put the game away.
Bulldog Coach Greg Watson agreed that his team showed signs of complacency when playing with a big lead.
"That (Ware's foul trouble) probably hurt us because he was playing well and getting a lot of rebounds," Watson said. "But our other guys have got to step up.
"That was a chance for some other guys to step up and, it's not that they did a poor job, but we lost a lot defensively late and that hurt us. We've got to do better than that."
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524.