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Eagles cap rally with collapse

Jefferson blows a 15-point second-half lead before hitting late free throws to hold off Brandon, 55-48.

By SCOTT PURKS, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 12, 2002

BRANDON -- Tarence Kinsey might have been a little off Friday when he said Jefferson "should have killed the mosquito with the ax."

A little off because the Dragons guard was comparing Brandon to the mosquito.

After all, the Eagles -- which did end up losing 55-48 -- came in 14-2 and ranked No. 5 in Class 4A.

But for a while early in the fourth quarter, Kinsey appeared to have a point.

His Dragons led 45-30, and in the previous 10 minutes, Brandon didn't hit the broad side of a barn, scoring just six points.

Kinsey, meantime, was throwing down alley-oops and ending fastbreaks with a few two-handed, rim-rattling slams.

"But then," said Kinsey, who ended with a game-high 20 points, "I think we got overconfident. And I think we also got too conservative. We wanted to slow it down a little and look for the good shot.

"But we got out of our rhythm. I mean we weren't even shooting the ball."

And Brandon -- behind the driving and scoring of Taylor Gangis, J.J. Turner and Jairius Wilkerson -- came storming back.

After scoring just four points as a team in the third quarter, the Eagles tied it at 48 with 44 seconds remaining.

At which point the Eagles, "Just blew it," Brandon coach Mark Hermann said.

Hermann was trying to tell his players not to foul, yet somewhere down the floor the signals got crossed and Brandon not only fouled, but it intentionally fouled, giving Jefferson two free throws and the ball out of bounds.

A few seconds later, the Eagles fouled again. Then they were hit with a technical foul when a player threw his mouthpiece.

The Dragons went on to sink all the ensuing free throws and seal the victory.

"Brandon is a very good team and we knew we weren't going to get a double-digit victory in their gym," Jefferson coach Doug Greseth said. "We're just happy to have held on and get out of here with a victory."

A key victory, considering Plant (No. 4 in Class 4A), Brandon and Jefferson (14-2 and No. 6 in 4A) each have one loss in 4A, District 9.

Brandon and Jefferson meet again next Wednesday at Jefferson, a game Kinsey said he expects to be a "dogfight."

"Really, we know Brandon is tough," Kinsey said. "We look forward to playing against them next week. It should be another good one."

In that game, Brandon will be at full strength with 6-foot-5 standout freshman Zaron Cann, who missed Friday's game serving the first of a two-game suspension for getting ejected after being assessed two technical fouls in a previous game.

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