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Brandon edges Plant in key 4A matchup

The Eagles find their second wind in the fourth quarter for a 62-56 victory.

By TERRY JONES
© St. Petersburg Times
published December 15, 2001


BRANDON -- All that work for nothing.

Class 4A No. 1 Plant stayed with No. 7 Brandon for much of the game Friday night before the Eagles found some extra hustle in the final quarter to put together a 62-56 win.

Brandon hit 13 of 17 free throws in the final period to pull out front and stay there. "We still haven't won on this court," Plant coach Mike Phillips said. "Our guys played a good game, but Brandon outhustled us in the end getting most of the loose balls."

Until the final 3 minutes of the game, the lead changed hands several times. Brandon finished the first half with a one-point lead and started the fourth quarter ahead by just three.

"We keyed in on (Tyler) Azzarelli from the beginning, forcing them to make their shots through the other guys," Brandon coach Mark Hermann said. "They outrebounded us for most of the game, but we really hustled a lot in the second half.

"This was a tough game. We knew it would be, but our guys really played hard."

Azzarelli hit a 3-pointer to start the game, but managed only 10 points for the night.

Michael Williams, the Panthers' 6-foot-6 senior center, led Plant (5-1) with a game-high 18 points. Kyle Karcht added 15.

Led by senior Jarius Wilkerson, Brandon (8-1) got hot at the free-throw line in the final minutes.

Wilkerson scored only six points, all from the foul line and five in the final 2 minutes. Nick Sylvester led the Eagles with 16. His final two field goals were Brandon's only baskets in the fourth quarter.

Eagles point guard Taylor Gangis scored 15 points and frustrated the Panthers with his ball-handling.

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