NAVARRE — After a three-year absence from coach basketball, Crestview girls basketball coach Kathy Combest said she didn’t feel any nerves for herself, but rather some anxiousness her team before the Bulldogs took the court against Navarre on Monday.
Combest, who has coached the Bulldog volleyball team the last two years, stepped down as the Baker girls coach after 13 years prior to the 2009 season with a 175 wins to her credit.
The layoff didn’t seem to bother Combest a bit as she was in mid-season form on opening night directing the Bulldogs to a 69-56 win over the Raiders.
Ironically, Combest’s firsr win as the Bulldog volleyball coach also came at the expense of Navarre.
Combest downplayed her return to the bench as she focused on the job ahead for the Bulldogs.
“I just try do what I can, when I can, as much as I can,” she said. “We’ve got a lot of stuff to work on. We are not very deep (on the roster, but we are trying to teach the girls that are on the bench to come in and not give up too much.
“We’ve got to get the girls a little more in tune to what we are trying to do. They don’t want back up and run the offense. We’ve still got to get them patient and get them to do what we need them to do and that’s because it’s a new system.”
While the Bulldogs (1-0) are still a work in progress they showed plenty of potential on their way to the win.
Senior Kerrie York helped Crestview get off to a fast start scoring six first-quarter points as Crestview took the early lead.
The Bulldogs didn’t lead the entire game, but they led most of the way and never trailed after an Arianna Simms’ fast break layup with 2:51 left in the opening period.
Crestview’s smothering half-court defense kept the Raiders (0-1) from being able to get into their offense as the Bulldogs led 18-12 at the end of the opening quarter.
Once the Bulldogs took the lead they did everything they could to hold onto it. Navarre used some long-range shooting to cut a point off the Crestview lead heading into the half with the score 33-38.
Crestview maintained the 5-point edge most of the third quarter until Navarre’s Celine Charitat it a 3-pointer with 2:47 left in the period to get the Bulldog advantage to 45-43. Navarre pulled to within a point of Crestview at the 1:03 mark in the quarter when Jess Reyes hit a free throw.
That would be as close as the Raiders would get as Malia Gandy and Simms scored for Crestview in the final minute of the third quarter to push the Bulldog lead back to 51-46 heading into the final period of play.
The Bulldogs extended the run to 10 points in the first 95 seconds of the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach.
Combest was glad to see that the Bulldogs didn’t give in to the Navarre rally in the third quarter.
“I’m most pleased with them not giving up and that’s what we’ve got to change at Crestview High School – not to give up, no matter what,” she said. “I thought when they caught up with us we went right back at them and that’s something I’m wanting to see more of.”
Simms and Jensis Coleman led Crestview in scoring with 17 points each. York added 14 points, Malia Gandy 12 points and Shantae Gandy eight points.
Nadia Fingall and Hannah Worden shared scoring honors for Navarre with 10 points.
The Crestview girls are sponsoring a Military Appreciation Night on Monday when they host Tate. Any active or retired members of the military will get free admission to the game by showing their military ID. Game time Monday is 7 p.m. for the varsity and 5:30 p.m. for the junior varsity.