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Early lead holds up for Chiefs

Doing its best to be a rude host, Chamberlain jumped out to a big lead and held off Blake to post a 69-55 win in the opening round of the fifth annual Chamberlain Christmas Tournament.

Usually a showcase for the Chiefs, Chamberlain placed third in last year's event. The Chiefs won the tournament the first two years and were second the next year.

Those memories became more distant as Thursday night's game progressed. The Chiefs came out strong offensively, but lapses did not allow Chamberlain to pull out of reach.

"We did a lot of good things," Chamberlain coach Doug Aplin said. "But we couldn't put them away. We turn the ball over here or make a bad play there, and they were still in it."

After jumping out to a 16-6 lead in the first quarter, it seemed Chamberlain (8-3) would have little trouble putting the Yellow Jackets away.

Tony Sica, Manny Hernandez and Otis White were hitting on all cylinders. Meanwhile, Blake was having troubling distributing the ball, and one of its key offensive weapons, Reggie Franklin, already had three fouls.

But Blake calmed down and almost matched Chamberlain point-for-point in the second quarter. And when a Vernon Lee steal and dunk pulled Blake within 10 early in the third quarter, the Jackets seemed poised to make a run.

But back-to-back three-pointers by Sica ended any Blake hopes.

Sica finished with 18 points while White scored 24 and Hernandez added eight. Lee led Blake with 12 while Dennis Moyd and Brandon Stancil combined for 21.

Chamberlain advances to face Gaither, a 60-44 winner over Leto. Led by Marcus Russell's 20 points, Gaither (5-4) established an early lead and did not look back.

The other winner's bracket matchup today will feature Tampa Bay Tech against Riverview at 4 p.m. followed by the Chamberlain-Gaither game at 5:30 p.m.

Lakewood pulls off upset

ST. PETERSBURG _ Lakewood defeated Jacksonville Arlington Country Day, the No. 22-ranked team in the nation by USA Today, 65-55 to advance to the semifinals of the Hooters Holiday Shootout.

The Spartans (8-0), ranked No. 8 in Class 4A and No. 4 in the Times Tampa Bay Top 10, rallied from a 35-27 halftime deficit. Marcus Morrison led Lakewood with 19 points. The Spartans play Hialeah Champagnat at 8:30 p.m. today at the Bayfront Center.

In the consolation bracket, Wharton (11-3) beat Dixie Hollins 57-52, Armwood (7-3) lost its second in a row, 74-46 to Marrero (La.) John Ehret, and Robinson (4-8) walloped Boca Raton Pope John Paul II 62-39.

_ PETE YOUNG

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