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Shots refuse to fall, so Leopards do

Published February 27, 2004

NEWBERRY - As time ran down in Hernando's game Thursday at Newberry, the Leopards' Jeff Brown and the Panthers' Keon Brown scrambled for a loose ball near midcourt.

Both players got their hands on the ball, but Keon Brown wound up on top. So did Newberry, which outlasted Hernando 70-64 in a back-and-forth game that featured 12 lead changes and seven ties.

The playoff win was Newberry's first in more than a decade, according to coach Marvin Buchannon.

Hernando led 8-3 but couldn't hold on for its first postseason victory since 1978.

"I really thought we should have won this game," Hernando coach Jeff Laing said. "We didn't get the ball in the basket enough to do that."

Many of those missed shots were inside, where Hernando (16-12) had a size advantage. But the Leopards missed numerous putbacks and Newberry (15-9) used its quickness to turn the opportunities into transition baskets.

Keon Brown, Newberry's leading scorer, had an uncharacteristically poor shooting night. But the Panthers' complementary players more than made up the difference.

Point guard Tony Jonas led Newberry with 21 points. Derrick McCray and Brown each had 15. But Brown, who attempted 19 3-pointers in a game earlier this season, was held to one 3 by Hernando's Kyle Swanston.

"Tonight was not one of Keon's typical nights," Buchannon said. "It was a great feeling to have that bench step up."

Hernando cleared out its offense and had Swanston set picks for Jeff Brown, who worked against Jonas. Brown finished with 29 points, including three 3-point plays. Swanston had 17.

Hernando trailed 30-24 at halftime but fought back to tie at 43 on Jeff Brown's 3-point play with 1:52 remaining in the third quarter. Larry Whitehead's jump shot gave Newberry a 45-43 lead 15 seconds later, and the Panthers never trailed again.

Hernando stayed as close as two points on Chris Korbus' putback with 6:24 remaining and Swanston's 3-pointer with 6:01 to play, but the Leopards got no closer than three the rest of the way.

[Last modified February 27, 2004, 01:31:31]


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