DeFUNIAK SPRINGS — Powered by a big first quarter, Crestview High School's boys basketball team cruised to a 65-48 win over Walton on Monday.
Walton’s Alex Campbell hit a free throw 31 seconds into the game, giving the Braves a 1-0 lead.
The lead lasted less than 20 seconds.
Crestview’s Ronnie Baylark answered with a 3-point basket at the 7:10 mark in the first quarter, giving the Bulldogs a lead they held the rest of the way.
Baylark’s 3-pointer was followed by a 3-point basket by Rashad Bess as Crestview (5-1) ripped off 17-4 run to end the first quarter.
Bess' basket was followed by a 2-point score from Walton’s Levico Thompson with 6:06 left in the first quarter. Walton didn’t score again until Nitro Gee connected on a basket with 23 seconds left in the period.
Five Bulldogs scored between the Thompson and Gee baskets. Jerry Aaron, Bess and Baylark scored 2-point baskets. Wesley St. Vil hit a 3-pointer with 3:18 left in the quarter, extending the Bulldog lead to 15-3.
Almost three minutes ran off the clock before Crestview got a basket from Marcelle Moorer. But even when they weren’t scoring, the Bulldogs controlled the game with their defense.
“We really played well defensively (Monday),” first-year Bulldog coach Greg Watson said. “(Defense is) the one thing we’ve been striving for in practice to get better on. They are a hard team to guard.
“They are quick and athletic and shoot the 3 a lot. Defensively, we really got after them. We did a good job of closing out on their shooters, and that allowed us to get the lead.”
Jamie Stanley came off the Walton bench, sparking the Braves in the second quarter. Stanley hit three 3-pointers and scored all of his 11 points in the second period as he tried to rally Walton.
Stanley’s 3-pointer with 4:52 left in the half cut Crestview's lead to 22-18.
Crestview’s Wesley St. Vil was fouled while shooting a 3-point basket and proceeded to hit all three free throws, pushing the Bulldog lead back to seven points.
Rasheen Blackmon hit a trey for the Braves, closing Crestview's lead to 25-21.
A Trevin Arrington 3-pointer was the first Bulldog score in an 11-2 run to end the first half.
The Bulldogs and Braves matched each other point for point in the third quarter and Crestview was 51-38 heading into the final eight minutes of play.
Scores from Rusty Moorer, St. Vil and Baylark in the fourth quarter's first two minutes pushed the Bulldog lead to 19 points. Walton never got closer than within 13 points of Crestview the rest of the way.
Baylark led a balanced Bulldog scoring attack with 15 points. Marcelle Moorer scored 12 points. And St. Vil added 10 points.
Gee scored 17 points for Walton. Stanley scored 11.
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at email@example.com, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524.