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Region boys basketball: Cinderella season continues for Lennard

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Tue. February 18, 2014 | Steve Lee

RUSKIN — Following Tuesday’s 73-68 win over Largo in a Class 6A region semifinal, Lennard coach Danny Gaddis brought up a Super Bowl champion and equated his team’s play to a boxing match.

“We play 12 rounds and they played our brand of (fast-break) basketball, but we got some separation,” he said, adding, “Defense wins championships, like the Seahawks.”

In a game of constant momentum swings, in part due to more than 30 combined turnovers, the Longhorns (24-4) did their collective best to bottle up Largo post player Brandon Jones, who missed a handful of close-range shots but still scored 11 points.

Lennard held a 36-34 halftime lead, rallying from a seven-point deficit at one point, before breaking the game open with a 23-14 advantage in the third quarter. Caelen Watts, held scoreless in the first half, hit three 3-pointers and scored 10 of his 12 points in the first four minutes of that frame.

“Coach (Gaddis) told me to stay confident,” said Watts, a senior point guard. “Just keep putting up shots and it’ll come to me.”

Added Gaddis: “He’s a gamer. Everybody has to be ready, whoever it was.”

Lennard built a 13-point lead at one point in the third, but the Packers (25-3) twice pulled within five points in the fourth before running into foul trouble.

Diontae Johnson led the Longhorns with 17 points  and Gary Hector scored 10.

Largo’s Donavan Hale scored a game-high 20, which included an emphatic reverse dunk in the second quarter. Teammate Jonathan Crawford added 16.

Lennard, which has yet to lose at home, continued its record-breaking season with its second ever playoff win.

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