BRANDON — Two nights after knocking off three-time district champion East Bay, No. 3 Brandon could not recreate the results and proved no match for top-seeded Strawberry Crest, which defeated the host Eagles 51-31 Thursday night for the Class 7A, District 7 boys basketball title.
The fifth-year Chargers (21-6) won their first district championship, and they are headed to the playoffs for the second time in three seasons.
"There really wasn't any pressure to win, because in the preseason no one expected us to be here," Strawberry Crest coach Andre Lewis said. "They earned it."
Strawberry Crest built a 10-point halftime lead, but Brandon (15-13) cut the deficit to 32-25 thanks, in part, to Khevin Wilson draining two of his three 3-pointers in the third quarter. The Chargers relied on a pressure defense to pull away with a 19-6 scoring advantage in the fourth.
"They had size, we had guards, and the defense won it," Lewis said.
The coach also relied on a bit of personal motivation, making his players well aware of the four straight state high school championships (1990-93) he won as a player in Georgia.
Guard Malik Channer scored 10 of his 15 points in the second half to spark the Chargers, who also got a game-high 16 points from forward Austin Griffin. Griffin scored three points on four occasions — two 3-pointers and two 3-point plays.
Aside from an 8-0 run to start the third quarter, Brandon was not able to score with any consistency. Wilson and Kiefer Jefferson-Grimes shared the team lead with nine points.