CRESTVIEW — Saying that Crestview High School girls basketball Coach Kathy Combest has a varsity team of Diaper Dandies is no exaggeration.
Arianna Simms is the lone Bulldog senior. Jensis Coleman and Diaza Williams are juniors. The rest of the varsity includes sophomores and freshmen, with six of the nine being freshmen.
Simms and Coleman are the only returning varsity players from last season.
"Jensis is a junior and Arianna is a senior — and that is our experience," Combest said. "Everybody else is a JV or middle school player. Nobody else played on my varsity last year except those two."
Having such a young team can be frustrating at times for a perfectionist like Combest. But the frustrating games quickly turn into learning experiences.
"They (new players) have a lot to learn," Combest said. "It's just the little things.They didn't know a lot of things about footwork and defense.
"We spent about a week-and-a-half working on defense, blocking out and doing those little things. If you can't play defense, you're not going to win because you've got to make some stops."
As might be expected of a young team, the Bulldogs got off to a rough start, dropping three of their first four games.
Crestview lost the season opener to Choctawhatchee, 49-34.
The Bulldogs picked up a District 1-7A win against Navarre, 72-32. In that game, Coleman recorded a triple-double with 14 points, 12 steals and 10 rebounds. Simms, KK McTear and Christa Johnson turned in double-doubles against the Raiders.
Simms had 10 points and 10 rebounds. McTear had 19 points and 10 steals. And Johnson had 16 rebounds and 10 steals.
Crestview dropped a pair of games last week in the Chick-fil-A Classic that was played at Choctaw.
Crestview fell behind early against the Indians, and never could catch Choctaw. But the Bulldogs outscored Choctaw 29-21 in the second half behind a strong effort from McTear.
Combest took the loss in stride.
"We are still learning," she said. "We have to learn how to guard the big girl (Choctaw's Nadia Fingal). We have to learn how to guard what I call the Tennessee offense, where they run picks and double picks.
"We missed 11 free throws and several easy layups. We have to play a little harder at the end. We just have to get everybody to play with intensity."
The Bulldogs lost to Niceville 60-59 in their final game of the tournament after leading the Eagles 39-24 at the start of the second half.
Once again, missed free throws were a problem as Crestview missed 11-of-26 shots from the line.
"We played lazy," Combest said. "Underneath the basket, we didn't block out for rebounds. And we didn't hit our free throws."
The tough losses are symptomatic of Crestview's youth and inexperience.
"We've got a lot of people young and trying to fill in some spots," Combest said. "I think they are going to do it.
"We are athletic. We've got some speed, but I think it's going to take a little time."
Combest isn't too concerned about the short term, but she does have some goals for the latter part of the season.
"We are just trying to teach them as much as we can right now," she said. "We are trying to get them as many games as we can to get them some experience before the district (tournament). We're not really worried about what our record is during the regular season.
"We are just hoping the couple of juniors and seniors we have will help the freshmen come along. We have to make them believe they can do it and make them do it by being athletic.
"I tell them that every day and to 'bring your athleticism with you.'"
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Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524.