DeFUNIAK SPRINGS — Crestview High School freshman girls basketball player KK McTear played well beyond her youth Monday as the Bulldogs traveled to Walton.
McTear scored a game-high 29 points, eight of which came in the fourth quarter, leading Crestview to a thrilling 66-64 win over the Braves.
Crestview coach Kathy Combest was pleased with the way her young team responded in a tough game.
“My freshmen aren’t real smart defensively, but they are getting there,” she said. “I have to give it to them. They made the plays when we needed them.”
Everything seemed to be going Walton’s way with 4:56 left in the game. Caretha Paul hit two free throws after a technical foul on the Crestview bench, putting the Braves in front 58-53.
With the Bulldogs down by five, McTear, who already had 21 points, shifted into high gear. In 23 seconds, McTear scored six unanswered points, putting the Bulldogs back in 59-58.
But there was still plenty of work to do for both teams.
Deja Tucker hit a pair of free throws with 3:38 left in the game to snap the rally by McTear and the Bulldogs and put the Braves up 60-59.
Arianna Simms hit a 3-pointer with 2:45 left in the game, putting Crestview up 62-60. Two more Tucker free throws and a basket by Kayla Jackson put the Braves in front 64-62 with 98 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
Jasmine Middleton, who was making her season debut for the Bulldogs, scored with 1:07 showing on the clock to tie the game. Thirty seconds later, McTear scored the game-winner off of an offensive rebound.
Crestview got off to a quick start in the game's opening moments.
Diojenae Hendrix scored the first basket of the game for the Bulldogs (4-4) less than a minute into the first quarter.
The Braves answered with a 9-0 run. Paul hit a 3-pointer to get things started.
Tucker, who finished the game with 24 points, then scored four points on a basket and a pair of free throws.
A Krista McQueen basket finished the run for Walton and the Braves had what would be their biggest lead of the game at seven points.
Simms stopped the Walton rally with a 3-pointer. Two quick baskets by McTear off Walton turnovers tied the game at 9-9.
The game would remain close the rest of the way.
Walton led 14-10 at the end of the first quarter. But a Simms basket followed by a Jensis Coleman 3-pointer gave Crestview the lead 15-14.
McTear sparked a 10-5 Crestview run as the Bulldogs pushed the lead to 25-19, their biggest of the night with 1:07 left in the half.
But the Bulldogs couldn’t stop McQueen. Two McQueen baskets in the final minute of the half helped Walton cut the lead to 25-23.
Both teams heated up in the third quarter as Crestview outscored Walton 24-22 to extend the lead to 49-46.
McTear ended the scoring onslaught with a basket as the quarter expired.
The scoring frenzy continued in the fourth quarter, as neither team was willing to give in. But McTear and the Bulldogs wouldn’t be denied, and Crestview outlasted Walton for the win.
Simms joined McTear in double figures with 11 points. Coleman scored eight. Middleton and Christa Johnson each had four points.
McQueen led Walton with 26 points. Paul scored 10 points to join McQueen and Paul in double figures.
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at email@example.com, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524.