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Jackie Eisenhauer got her second career victory as head coach.
By BRYAN BURNS
Published December 20, 2006
TAMPA - Gaither's Jackie Eisenhauer got the best birthday gift her girls team could get her - a second career victory as a head coach.
Eisenhauer watched as the Cowboys outscored host Leto 41-10 in the second half of their opening-round game at the Leto Holiday Classic after leading by just five (26-21) at halftime.
"I know they worked extra hard," Eisenhauer said of the 67-31 victory. "They're good girls; I love them. I know they play really hard for me, so it couldn't be a better birthday gift."
Leto's Maryssa Clark had 11 of her team's 21 first-half points to keep the game close at halftime, but Gaither double-teamed the talented guard regularly in the second, disrupting Leto's offense to the point the Falcons made just three field goals. Clark finished with seven points in the second half and 18 total.
"We cleaned up our defense," said Gaither junior guard Becky Newman, who scored a game-high 19. "We stopped fouling defensively and made our layups.
Gaither (2-8) advances to today's semifinal against Bloomingdale, which got 20 points from junior guard Paris Moore to rout Robinson 57-18. Leto (1-9) plays Robinson in the consolation bracket today.
In the girls consolation bracket Tuesday, Wharton shut down Jefferson's Rebecca Sullivan in the fourth quarter - Sullivan had a team-high 16 points but none in the fourth - and pulled away for a 44-38 victory.
The second game of the boys consolation bracket saw Leto backup guard Michael Perez come off the bench in the third quarter and break open a fairly even game with Alonso by drilling four 3-pointers in a two-minute span. Leto rolled from there, beating the Ravens by 23 (62-39).
"(Perez) hasn't played a lot this year," Leto coach Todd Price said. "I think he had all of six points coming into the game."
Joelys Himely led Leto with 15 first-half points but was shut out in the second half. Perez finished with 14, as did senior forward Bryan Venzen. Alonso's Eddie Taylor scored a team-high 13 points on three 3-pointers.
Leto advances to play King, a 58-55 winner over IMG Academy. That game was in doubt until Matt Merchant's two free throws in the closing seconds clinched it. Josh Kinser paced King with 15 points; Toarlyn FitzPatrick and Treece Lynch each had 14.