Yellow Jackets open tourney with thriller

Blake edges Tampa Catholic as Plant, Chamberlain and Tampa Prep cruise.

Published December 20, 2006

TAMPA - The opening round of the City of Tampa Championship produced its share of tense moments. But they all came in the same game.

Blake, fighting off Tampa Catholic's sharp-shooting attack, rallied then hung on for a 66-63 victory.

The other opening-round games were lopsided affairs as Plant thumped Hillsborough 69-31, Chamberlain defeated Jefferson 66-42 and host Tampa Prep beat Robinson 66-36.

Plant and Blake face off today at 6 p.m. followed by Chamberlain and Tampa Prep at 7:30 p.m.

In rallying from its nine-point halftime deficit, Blake was led by senior forward Ryan Davis, who scored nine of his 23 points in the fourth quarter. Eric Hillsman and Anthony Hill combined to score 26 for the Yellow Jackets, who chipped away at the Tampa Catholic advantage until taking the lead for good with less than a minute left in the game. Tampa Catholic had three scorers in double figures, led by Matt Dziagwa's 21 points.

Plant (8-1) had no such drama in its game, scoring 26 second-quarter points to pull away from Hillsborough. The Panthers had 13 players register points during the win, with Sheldon Cooley leading all scorers with 19 while teammate Chandler Flom added 13.

Tampa Prep, meanwhile, opened its game with a 15-2 run. The Terrapins (7-1) got 23 points from senior forward Walter Perkins and 16 from junior guard David Waller.

And Chamberlain, despite being tied with Jefferson after one quarter, also had an easy evening, pulling away from the Dragons with a combination of inside muscle and accurate outside shooting.

The Chiefs outscored Jefferson 40-16 during the second and third quarters to stay unbeaten (8-0) despite a 10-day layoff. Carlos Figueroa led Chamberlain with 20 points, while Schuyler Gray had 12 and Dantavis Adkins and Mike Plummer each added 11.

"We usually have to have four or five guys all playing well," Chamberlain coach Doug Aplin said. "We're not the type of team to have one guy carry us.

"We had some guys doing some good things offensively and we did enough on defense tonight."