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Basketball: Panthers stay undefeated
Led by Sheldon Cooley's 18 points, Plant rolls past Chamberlain.
By JOE SMITH
Published December 12, 2007
TAMPA - Plant junior Sheldon Cooley is a basketball junkie, which means bad news for his new Nerf hoop.
The 6-foot-2 guard plays indoors with his younger brother Cedric, 3, his dunks rattling his apartment's front door.
"Sheldon plays so much, I had to replace the (hoop) a week ago," said his mother, Patricia, laughing.
Cooley's one-track mind contrasts with his multifaceted attack on the court. Cooley showed why he's one of the county's most complete players Tuesday night in a district showdown at Chamberlain, racking up 18 points, eight rebounds and six steals to lead the Panthers to a 51-42 win.
Plant (8-0, 8-0), ranked No. 8 in Class 5A, is now in the driver's seat in 5A-10, but hosts defending district champ Middleton (7-1, 5-1) tonight. The Tigers' lone loss was to Chamberlain (5-2, 5-1).
"We kind of underestimated them at the beginning," Chiefs junior guard Dontae Aycock said of Plant. "(Cooley) is probably the best player we've faced. ... He can shoot. If you lose him for a second, he's gonna score."
Cooley scored eight of the Panthers' first 14 points as they jumped out to a 22-6 lead. Cooley grabbed offensive rebounds. He made a steal at midcourt and cruised in for a dunk.
Said Plant coach Mike Phillips: "He did it all."
But the Chiefs battled back, thanks to three 3-pointers by guard Mike Plummer (17 points) and the inside play of 6-9 forward Matthew Kendrick (12 points).
Plummer's third 3-pointer cut the Panthers' lead to 42-38 with four minutes left. But a Cooley offensive rebound set up a 3-pointer by senior forward Chandler Flom (13 points) that helped seal the game.
Cooley, who has received interest from Virginia Tech and USF, may average 27 points, 14 rebounds and five assists, but he's not a one-man show.
"Chandler's underrated because of his size," Cooley said. "But he can shoot."