Bloomingdale's Jean LeBrun scores 31 points, including the winner at the buzzer, to outlast Gaither and Antonio Russell.
By EMILY NIPPS, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times, published January 23, 2003
VALRICO -- Forget about the screaming, crazed parents in the stands. Wednesday night's district game between Gaither and Bloomingdale went into double overtime and the emotional back and forth was nearly killing the players.
Bloomingdale's Jean LeBrun had practically carried the team on his shoulders and felt single-handedly responsible for the outcome.
Gaither's Antonio Russell scored a game-high 36 points and was hoping he could do enough after his two biggest helpers fouled out.
The image of LeBrun floating up for a one-handed 10-footer at the buzzer would be a lasting one for both sides as Bloomingdale sealed a 68-67 victory.
The Bulls (8-4) mobbed LeBrun, suffocating him with love, while a tearful and outraged Russell needed some condolence. The Cowboys (7-9) protested the shot's validity but eventually lined up to shake their rivals' hands.
"We're going to surprise everyone this year," LeBrun said. "Our determination and hard work is paying off."
LeBrun himself has been a surprise, emerging as one of the top scorers in the county after barely standing out last season. After sitting out most of the second quarter against Gaither, he scored 18 of Bloomingdale's 22 second-half points.
"His confidence is way up right now," Bulls coach Josh Chapin said. "He's tackling every shot, he's drawing fouls. He's got a great body, great hands, and he's finally realizing his potential."
LeBrun finished with 31 while teammates Corey Finch and David Sampson scored 15 and 14. The Bulls are 4-1 in their district.
For Gaither's Russell, guarding LeBrun was tough, but the pressure tripled when starters Brandon Harrison (13 points) and Chris Bonner (four) fouled out in the fourth quarter and first overtime.
"We were outmanned tonight," Gaither coach Dwayne Olinger said. "Bloomingdale did a heck of a job, though. They're the best team in the district."
Still, Russell said, LeBrun's last-second shot should never have happened.
"When the ball's on the floor, it's got to be all bodies on the floor," Russell said. "We've got to have that ball."