NICEVILLE — Halfway through the 2012-2013 season, the Crestview girls basketball team is continuing to develop under the direction of first-year coach Kathy Combest.
The Bulldogs have taken their lumps in some not-so-pretty losses, but they have delivered a few blows as well.
Slowly but surely, they are starting show some of the signs that come district tournament time they could play the role of spoiler.
Crestview used a pressure defense and some timely offense Tuesday to beat Niceville 45-41 for the first District 2-6A win of the season for the Bulldogs.
Combest liked the way the team played at times, but she still sees plenty of work to be done over the holiday break.
“We are trying to work on some stuff and we get good at it and then we get tired,” she said. “We’ve got to get a little bit better and get in better shape to press and put pressure on defense.
“That’s our goal during the holidays is to get in better shape so we can stay longer at what we are doing with pressure.”
The opening minutes of the game were all Crestview as the Bulldogs jumped to an 11-0 lead and never trailed.
Arianna Simms, Malia Gandy, Jasmine Middle and Kerrie York benefitted from a tenacious Crestview press that lead to easy baskets in the first two-and-a-half minutes of the game.
Madison McNabb, who led the Eagles (5-7, 1-4) in scoring with 10, finally got Niceville on the scoreboard with 4:15 left in the first quarter.
Molly Woodward then scored the next five points for the Bulldogs (6-6, 1-4) hitting a pair of free throws in the place of an injured Gandy and then draining a long 3-pointer to put the Bulldogs up 16-2 with 3:31 left in the first period.
Hannah Schroeder hit a couple of baskets for Niceville in the closing minutes of the period to make the score 16-6 after one.
The Eagles tried to play catch up the rest of the night.
A pair of Elise Stuart 3-pointers in the second quarter helped the Eagles close to within four of the Bulldogs at the end of the first half.
But every time Niceville made a run the Bulldogs responded with two or three unanswered baskets to keep a four-to-six point lead.
Niceville got to within a basket at 37-35 at the end of the third quarter, but Crestview scored five unanswered points to open the fourth quarter.
York and Jensis Coleman scored field goals and Gandy a free throw to push the Bulldog advantage to 42-37.
Niceville pulled to within 43-41 with 22 second left in the quarter but a free throw by Simms and another by Coleman gave the Bulldogs just what they needed to hold on for the win.
Coleman led the Bulldogs in scoring with 12 points. Simms scored 11 and York eight.
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at email@example.com, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524