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Boys 5A-8 hoops: Eagles' late run seals district title
By Keith Niebuhr, Times Staff Writer
Published February 10, 2008
TAMPA - Down the stretch in Saturday night's 42-38 win against a gritty Wharton team, Brandon made clutch shots, passed well, grabbed crucial rebounds and played exceptionally well on the defensive end.
When asked how the Eagles managed to do all of this, Brandon coach Mark Hermann didn't mention X's and O's.
"We start five seniors," he said. "We're supposed to win a game like this."
With the victory, Brandon (21-4) claimed its fifth district title in six seasons. The only blemish during that stretch came last year, when the Eagles fell in the semifinals and failed to reach the region tournament.
"This is nice," Hermann said. "They deserve it. They played hard."
As did Wharton (15-13).
After starting the season 3-11, the Wildcats came alive and continued their strong play Saturday. And they nearly pulled out the win.
"They have gotten a ton better," Hermann said.
Wharton, which got 16 points from Anthony Manuel and 13 from Derek Holmes, was ahead 22-21 at halftime and still led deep into the third. But after pulling even at 36 on a Manuel jumper with 5:57 remaining, everything fell apart.
First, Brandon center Evan Ravenel, who finished with a game-high 17 points, sank two free throws. Then Blake Allen scored. Finally, Marcus Morrison slammed one home after catching a Tarron Stewart pass near the basket to give the Eagles a 42-36 lead with 1:07 left.
As this was happening, Wharton went cold, largely because of Brandon's defense.
"We were bigger, stronger and tougher," Ravenel said.
Class 6A, district 8
Plant City can't hold on
RIVERVIEW - Following Channing Woodall's layup with less than a minute to play, Plant City trailed by only one. But after making a steal seconds later, the Raiders had a shot blocked at the other end. From there Lakeland iced it at the foul line for a 68-64 win over Plant City (15-9).