Durant captures the tournament title with a balanced effort against Hillsborough.
By ROD GIPSON
© St. Petersburg Times, published January 6, 2002
TAMPA -- Heading into the championship game of the A.P. Leto Holiday Classic, Durant coach Gary Jordan said his offense had been taking care of itself this season. His defense, however, had been struggling to meet his expectations. Jordan got the best of both worlds Saturday as the Cougars put up plenty of both and routed Hillsborough 76-61 at Pierce Middle School. Durant, which swept through the tournament in three games, is now 13-1 on the year. Hillsborough fell to 5-8.
"They (Hillsborough) played with a lot of intensity," Jordan said. "We didn't respond well at the start. But I think we made some adjustments and really stepped it up at both ends of the court later in the game."
Both teams played at a frantic pace to start the game.
The Terriers matched the Cougars shot for shot through the first period, which ended in a 17-17 tie. Minutes later and deadlocked at 19, Durant busted out on a 14-7 run that wore down Hillsborough and established the pace for the Cougars for the rest of the game.
Durant forward Ben Murphy nailed 3-pointers at the close of the first half and minutes into the second as the Cougars extended their lead to 20 points and didn't look back.
Murphy, who finished with a team-high 20 points, was one of four Durant players to score in double figures. R.L. Bond scored 18, Ean Randolph 12 and Brandon Waraksa added 10.
The Cougars matched that effort on defense when it counted the most, limiting the Terriers to 11 points in both the second and third quarters, frustrating Hillsborough into bad shots and numerous turnovers.
Still, Hillsborough got a solid performance from senior forward Jack Miller (25 points) and Jose Gutierrez, who scored all of his 12 points on 3-point shots.
"We started slow in this tournament but got better as it went on," Jordan said. "We are 13-1 now and playing well, but the kids realize we still need to get better."