CRESTVIEW — Christmas came early for the Crestview boys basketball team on Thursday.
Yes, the Bulldogs played their last game for a week and school was getting out for the Christmas break on Friday.
But a team that has struggled at times in the first three weeks of the season needed more than a break in the game schedule or days off from school.
Crestview needed a win and against Bay and that’s just what the Bulldogs got as they took down the Tornadoes 54-42.
“It was a nice win before the break,” Crestview coach Ken Meisner said. “That’s one of the comments we made before we stepped on the floor tonight was this was our final tune up before the second half of the season.
“We wanted to come to be respectable and competitive and the kids did that.”
The first half was close as both teams used a variation of a full-court zone press defense in an attempt to score points in transition.
Bay scored first on a Rayshawn Patterson basket.
Ronnie Baylark answered for Crestview by scoring the next five points on his way to a game-high 22 point effort.
A Jerry Aaron basket put the Bulldogs up 7-2 before back-to-back 3-pointers by Patterson gave Bay an 8-7 lead.
Markeis Goodman added another basket for the Tornadoes with 2:56 left in the opening period to give Bay its largest lead of the night at 10-7.
The first quarter ended with Crestview going on a 7-3 run to take a 14-13 lead after one quarter of play. Fittingly, Patterson hit a 3-point basket to end Bay’s scoring in the first quarter and Baylark closed things out for Crestview (3-7) with a 3-pointer of his own.
Patterson had 11 points in the first quarter, but the Bulldog defense stiffened and held him to just for more points the rest of the way.
Baylark, who scored eight points in the first quarter, was just getting going for the Bulldogs as the Crestview defense started shutting down Patterson.
Baylark scored five more points in the second quarter as the Bulldogs led 23-21 at the half.
The third quarter was all Crestview as the Bulldogs outscored Bay 23-6 to take control of the game.
Jonathon Buckelew led the way for Crestview scoring seven of his 11 points in the third period. Baylark and Aaron also came up big in the third quarter with Baylark scoring six points and Aaron four ponts.
“In the second half we just came out and turned it up,” Baylark said. “We wanted this one. We’ve been losing lately and the team wanted it and we said we are just going to come out here and play hard.
We’ve got a tournament coming up (the Freeport Christmas tournament on Dec. 27) and we’ve got to come out and execute our hardest so we can get a little streak where we can win some games and get in good position for district.”
Crestview led 46-27 after the third quarter.
A basket by Aaron with 4:41 left in the fourth quarter gave the Bulldogs their biggest lead of the night at 52-29 as Crestview coasted to the win.
Meisner said it was little things that made the difference in the second half.
“It was very calm at half time, actually,” he said. “We talked about the cross break a little and the posts (players) rotating to the middle to the second half, which was a big deal because we had a secondary pass and we had a hard time in the first half.
“And then we had shots fall. And when you have shots fall confidence builds and confidence goes a long ways in the third quarter.”
Aaron joined Baylark and Buckelew in double figures for the Bulldogs scoring 14 points.
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at email@example.com, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524