Chamberlain holds off a surprising Riverview squad to reach the final of its tournament.
By ROD GIPSON
© St. Petersburg Times, published December 30, 2000
TAMPA -- Battling a bad back and a Riverview team that played better than advertised, Manny Hernandez scored 28 points as Chamberlain hung on for a 74-65 victory and advanced to the title game of its tournament.
Entering the game 3-8, Riverview seemed to be just a speed bump on Chamberlain's way to the title game. But the Sharks were ready, hanging with the Chiefs throughout the first half and even outscoring them in the second quarter.
"Riverview deserves a lot of credit," Chamberlain coach Doug Aplin said. "They made this game tough. They made their shots, and they rebounded. We did just enough to win."
Ahead 39-37 at the half, Chamberlain (9-3) quickly got the surge it needed with an Otis White three-pointer and a three-point play by Hernandez, still nursing a sore back from football season. The duo helped extend the lead to 56-48.
Riverview remained within striking distance, but mistakes and Chamberlain's defense proved too much. The Sharks got as close as five points. The Sharks' last run came in the final two minutes, when they closed to 66-61. But a turnover and dunks by Hernandez and Greg Lee put the game away. White finished with 16 points while Russell Brown led Riverview with 17.
In the other semifinal, Marcus Russell scored 21 points as Gaither fought off Tampa Bay Tech. The game remained close until Gaither's free-throw shooting gave it an advantage late. The Cowboys broke a 66-66 tie in the final 2:28 by making six free throws, four by Russell. Tiras Wade scored 29 points to lead the Titans (8-6).
Gaither (6-4) and Chamberlain meet in today's 4 p.m. title game. Hillsborough faces Blake for fifth place at 1 followed by Tech and Riverview for third at 2:30. -- Rod Gipson
NEW PORT RICHEY -- Jason Williams' reverse layup gave King a 37-36 lead over Ridgewood and led the Lions to the Port Richey Rotary William G. Hulton Rams Classic title.
Richard Blocker led King with 10 points and Williams had eight. -- Times staff
ST. PETERSBURG -- Lakewood and Boca Ciega were denied a rematch in the Hooters Holiday Shootout championship as both lost in the semifinals at the Bayfront Center.
Hialeah Champagnat Catholic beat defending champion Lakewood (8-1) 76-61, and Lexington, S.C., beat Boca Ciega 61-53. -- Times staff