TAMPA — In his first year as coach at Brandon, Allie Turley lost his first six games, struggled with a young roster, headed into the district tournament on a losing streak and was blown out in the first round.
In his second season, Turley lost his first six games, was up and down with a young roster, headed into the district tournament on a losing streak and …well, that's where the comparison ends.
Perhaps turning a corner in his young coaching career, Turley guided his Eagles to the 6A-8 championship game Friday night, beating Plant 53-47 at Alonso.
Turley was quick to credit his guards, Da-Vonte Lamarr and Xavier Bradley, for controlling play and helping keep the Panthers in the 40s despite a game-high 27 from Michael Frazier.
When held below 50, Plant (13-13) was 2-10 this season.
"I thought Da-Vonte and Xavier stepped up and really controlled the pace of the team," Turley said. "They ran the offense well."
Brandon (11-14) was led by Charles Johnson, who made three 3s on his way to 15 points. Three other Eagles scored in double figures. The Eagles advance to next week's region quarterfinals, along with Wharton, a 57-51 winner over Alonso. The two meet tonight for the district title and homecourt advantage in the playoffs.
While closer than expected, the Wildcats (25-1) were always in control against the Ravens (9-18) in capturing their 23rd straight win. The Ravens erased a 9-0 start by Wharton and only trailed 28-26 at halftime, but could not overcome a 10-0 Wildcats run to start the second half. C.J. McGill hit a 3, A.J. Astroth scored twice off steals and Andrew Jewesak had a lay-in during the run.
Damian Dixon led Wharton with 19 points; Waymond Reed scored 16 to pace Alonso.