TAMPA — For whatever reason — extra portions of turkey or too much holiday cheer — the Bloomingdale basketball team has struggled in recent years during the winter break.
"We always struggle around Christmas time," Bulls senior George Brammeier said. "What I tried to do (tonight) was just bring a lot of energy out there."
Boy, did he ever.
Brammeier had a huge second half and picked up most valuable player honors as the Bulls beat Armwood 71-61 in the title game of the Buffalo Wild Wings Holiday Classic.
"I don't know if it's Santa Claus or New Year's," Bloomingdale coach Joe Willis said. "But we played in the Seffner Christian Holiday Tournament and then had a pretty intense five-day training camp between that one and this (tournament). I wanted us to be ready."
Bloomingdale, which took third at the SCA event with a buzzer beater, finished this season's holiday stretch 4-1.
But things didn't look so good at halftime as the Bulls were tied at 24 though they had jumped to 16-3 lead early.
"It was like a funeral in the locker room at half," Brammeier said. "We were dead, and I didn't want to see the second half go that way."
Brammeier took over to start the third quarter. The 6-foot-10 senior scored his team's first 10 points out of the break, including a dunk. He finished with a team-high 24 points with 12 rebounds and three blocks.
"Our key is to share the ball," Willis said. "If we make the extra pass, a lot of time it ends up in George's hands around the rim. When we share the ball we look pretty good."
In the third-place game, Cody Brown scored 24 as Robinson defeated Clearwater 73-66. Rasim Avmet scored a game-high 26 for the Tornadoes and teammate Darien Asberry had nine. In the fifth-place game, Wesley Chapel beat Alonso 60-46.
Marcus Hayne (Wesley Chapel), Kieran Smith (27 points for Armwood in the final), Jake Baer (17 for Bloomingdale in final), Brown (Robinson) and Avmet (Clearwater) were named to the all-tournament team.