Mike Dean scored a game-high 19 points, leading Brandon past Armwood 69-54 in the opening game of the Class 4A, District 5 tournament Thursday. Brandon, 14-12 and the tournament's fourth seed, will meet top-seeded Bloomingdale in the semifinals at 8 tonight. Bloomingdale, 24-4 and ranked seventh in the state, advanced with a 101-90 win over Lakeland (3-20).
Plant City, seeded second, meets third-seed Lake Gibson (15-12) in the other semifinal game. Plant City, 21-5 and ranked eighth in the state, advanced with a 70-45 defeat of East Bay (4-20), and Lake Gibson moved on with a 66-59 win over Winter Haven (4-21). Both semifinal games will be played at Lakeland Senior High.
Armwood led throughout the first half as Joe Godbolt scored 13 of his team-high 17 points and teammate Jeff Carroll, who finished with 16 points, added 11 first-half points.
Brandon, which trailed 33-29 at the half, took its first lead of the game, 40-39, on a basket by Adrian Smith. The Eagles built their lead to five at one point, but a three-point field goal by Spanky Kay as the third quarter ended tied the game at 49. However, Brandon outscored Armwood 20-5 in the fourth quarter to end Armwood's season.
"We changed our defense (at halftime) and didn't give them the cheap basket," Brandon coach Frank Vining said, "In the second half, we didn't give up the layups inside."
Bloomingdale found itself in a track meet with Lakeland but expanded a five-point halftime lead (41-36) to 19 points at the end of the third quarter as they outscored Lakeland 30-16 in the third period. Brian Lott led Bloomingdale with 35 points.
Russell Evans provided all the firepower Plant City needed in the first half as the Raiders opened a 35-16 halftime lead. Evans, who played only sparingly in the second half, scored all 18 of his points in the first half.
_ Times correspondent Christine Sneeringer contributed to this report.