CRESTVIEW — Up by four points with 69 seconds left in the third quarter against District 2-6A rival Niceville on Friday night the Crestview girls basketball was unable to close out the deal.
Employing a frantic full-court press the Eagles forced the Bulldogs into turnover after turnover as they went on a 20-6 run to close out the game.
When the final horn sounded Niceville was celebrating a 47-37 win.
The Bulldogs (1-2, 0-1) were without the services of head coach Kathy Combest, who was absent due to the death of a close friend. But assistant coaches Mike Stewart and Matt Sanders had Crestview in a position to battle for the win until late in the third quarter when the Eagles began turning up the heat.
Neither team was able to gain and early advantage in the first quarter although Crestview did jump in front 7-2 behind four quick points from Jenis Coleman less than three minutes into the first quarter. But with Dani Douglas leading the way Niceville closed out the first quarter on an 8-2 run and led 10-9 after one.
The Eagles (2-1, 1-0) extended the lead to five points in the second quarter as neither team could find the basket with any consistency.
Crestview came out after the half playing its best basketball of the game in the early minutes of the third quarter.
Malia Gandy scored a pair of baskets to lead an 8-0 Bulldog run as Crestview erased the 3-point deficit at the half and moved in front 21-18 with 5:35 left in the third quarter.
The Bulldogs and Eagles traded the lead over the next four minutes before Crestview got scores from Kerrie York and Jasmine Middleton to take a 29-25 lead.
Middleton’s second basket of the quarter put Crestview up 31-27 with 1:09 left in the third quarter. The Eagles then turned up the defensive pressure and the young Bulldog team couldn’t withstand the heat as they turned the ball over to the Eagles time-after-time and Niceville capitalized with easy baskets.
“They just put a lot of pressure on us,” Stewart said. “We are so young that we are still in the teaching stage mode right now. We haven’t learned our defense and we are still in our teaching mode.
“They played hard tonight and they played good in spots, but we just had some lapses on defense.”
Douglas and Jessi Day were a potent fourth quarter combination for the Eagles as both scored six points in the final period as Niceville rolled to the win.
Day and Douglas shared scoring honors for Niceville with 14 points each.
Coleman led Crestview with 12 points and Arianna Coleman added nine points.
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at email@example.com, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524