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District boys basketball: Brandon upsets East Bay in 7A-7

BRANDON — Brandon coach Jamie Turner knew that to upset East Bay in Tuesday's district semifinals, point guard Jonathan Jean needed to be slowed, harassed and befuddled.

He couldn't score 18 points like he did in their previous meeting.

He couldn't race up and down the court and dictate the pace of the game.

And by no means was he allowed to drive and dish.

"It had to be done," said Brandon junior Pedro Lopez, who went out and did it.

Behind some exceptional man-to-man defense by Lopez, strong rebounding and perfect free-throw shooting down the stretch, the Eagles stunned East Bay 49-41, clinching a playoff berth.

Brandon (15-11) hosts Strawberry Crest, a 52-43 winner over Plant City, in Thursday's Class 7A, District 7 final.

Lopez scored eight of his 12 in the fourth quarter, and held Jean to seven points. After playing a 2-3 zone in the first half, Brandon switched to a box-and-one in the second half with Lopez man up on Jean, who failed to score in double figures for the first time all season.

"Jon Jean is a great player. He's like coach out there. And we said, we gotta get this guy out of the game," Turner said. "Pedro is one of the most underrated guards around. He's one of the best on-ball defenders out there. He has a big heart, and tonight he had the eye of the tiger."

And he had help.

Trailing 24-19 early in the second half, Brandon relied on big men Roderick Davis and Kiefer Jefferson-Grimes in a 18-2 run. Davis hit a 3-pointer and a putback, and Jefferson-Grimes scored twice inside as Brandon led 37-27 with six minutes left.

But Jean hit a 3, and Kendell Barnes added one to tie it at 39 with 2:34 left.

Lopez, though, quickly went coast-to-coast on a drive to put Brandon back ahead for good as East Bay (18-7) went cold, missing two 3s and two potential tying free throws.

Jefferson-Grimes, Khevin Wilson, Davis and Lopez all went 2-for-2 from the line in the last 29 seconds to seal the win.

Class 2A-8: After Bayshore Christian cruised to a 73-41 win over Odessa Christian to clinch a playoff spot, coach Broderick Day praised his team's poise. "We played under control," Day said.

And his team stayed in control all night in a convincing home win.

Bayshore (22-3) scored the first 11 points and forced five turnovers before the Wranglers (5-13) made their first bucket. The Faith Warriors tacked on an 8-0 run early in the second quarter and led by at least 15 points the rest of the way.

Junior Matthew Eckermann had 10 of his game-high 19 points in the third quarter, and Gregory Johnson chipped in 16 points to clinch Bayshore's first playoff berth since 2008.

Senior Eric Davis only scored nine but dominated the paint with 19 rebounds and four blocks.

"He's our aggressive leader," Day said of the 6-foot-5 forward. "He starts those breaks for us."

Senior Will Warkenthien led Odessa Christian with 16 points and 12 rebounds, and senior Mitchell White added 15 points.

The other semifinal was only slightly closer. Canterbury (13-9) outscored Citrus Park Christian (4-16) by 14 points in the second half to cruise to a 65-44 win. Canterbury advances to play host Bayshore in Friday's district championship game.

Junior Kyle Shealy (20 points), senior Devin Levi (16) and junior Hunter Coia (15) all scored in double figures for the Crusaders. Malik Garner had 15 points for the Eagles, and Josiah Wynn finished with 17 points and a game-high 13 rebounds.

Class 2A-7: After two 30-plus point wins over Universal Academy in the regular season, Academy at the Lakes (14-10) struggled early in the district semifinals. The Wildcats and Universal were tied after the first quarter of a sloppy contest before AATL pulled away in a 67-51 win.

AATL advances to play host Cambridge Christian (17-7), which beat Tampa Bay HEAT 58-25. The Lancers had almost as many points in the first quarter (24) as their opponent scored all night. Twelve players scored for Cambridge, led by sophomore Brandon White's 17 points.

Matt Baker, Times staff writer

District boys basketball: Brandon upsets East Bay in 7A-7 02/04/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 4, 2014 11:41pm]
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