Wharton turns the tables on Sickles, and Chamberlain puts a scare into Durant before falling.
By MIKE READLING, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 4, 2002
TAMPA -- The second day of the A.P. Leto Holiday Classic was about holes: Who could get out of one and who dug theirs too deep.
Wharton found itself trailing Sickles by eight points at the half but managed to put together a rally in the third quarter -- a trait that has defined the Wildcats this season -- to win 53-40 and advance to today's semifinals at Pierce Middle School.
Chamberlain, on the other hand, was outscored by 11 points in the first quarter by Durant and trailed by as many as 18 in the first half before storming back to put a scare into the Cougars, who held on to win 71-66.
Durant (11-1) will play Wharton tonight at 7:30 for the chance to play in Saturday's final game. Chamberlain returns at 12:30 to take on the Gryphons, who will be looking to avenge an early-season loss to the Chiefs.
While Wharton blasted its way back into the game by outscoring Sickles 20-5 in the third quarter, Chamberlain was content to chip away at the Cougars' lead throughout the second half.
The Chiefs (10-5) hit eight of 12 free throws in the final two periods and worked the ball inside to Willie Patrick and Otis White, who finished with 19 and 11 points, respectively.
It was a plan that worked perfectly -- when Chamberlain was able to hold on to the ball.
"When you turn the ball over I don't know how many times against a team like Durant ... " Chamberlain coach Doug Aplin said.
"We had a flurry of turnovers. It seemed like whenever we got a possession we turned it over in the first quarter. Then we got too far behind to be able to come back. (Being behind) 38-20 is too much against any team, much less a good one."
Despite the deficit and a tournament-record 34 points from Durant's R.L. Bond, the Chiefs managed to mount enough of a comeback to close within three points with 3.3 seconds left.
That's when Ryan Jennings' long inbounds pass was intercepted by Ean Randolph just past midcourt. Randolph hit his two free throws, effectively ending Chamberlain's bid for the win.
"I would call it a very interesting game," Durant coach Randy Jordan said.
"At times we played like we're supposed to, and then 30 seconds later, I would be wondering where these guys came from. We made some terrible decisions and were looking for a leader, and we didn't find one tonight."