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Options aplenty if Devlin gets in a bind

Published Mar. 1, 2006

Chamberlain's region final victory over Largo started out well enough for senior guard James Devlin.

The Chiefs' leading scorer started the game on fire, draining his first three attempts, all from 3-point range. No matter where Devlin was on the court or who was guarding him, he was hitting.

Devlin's dream night, however, was short-lived.

First, he was called for a foul toward the end of the first quarter. That was followed by two quick fouls midway through the second. Devlin's third infraction forced him to sit the final 3:22 of the first half on the bench.

Coincidentally, Largo went on a 7-0 run after Devlin went to the bench, turning a 25-18 Chamberlain lead into a 25-all tie at halftime.

Devlin played most of the third before picking up foul No. 4 with less than a minute left in the quarter. He didn't come back until 3:47 remained in the game, then fouled out with five seconds to go.

"I'm not used to sitting down, so that took me out of my rhythm," said Devlin, who was held scoreless in the second half. "I was concerned that I wasn't going to get to play much and help my team out."

But as Chamberlain has done all year, other players stepped up in the absence of Devlin's scoring.

Forward Kylan Robinson scored a game-high 20 after being held to just a free throw in the first half. And guard Brandon Jefferson contributed 17 huge points that provided the Chiefs with the spark they needed.

"A lot of times James is on, so I don't have to worry about scoring," Jefferson said. "But with him in foul trouble and Kylan off in the first half, I needed to step up. I didn't force anything. I just took what the defense gave me."

That has been a theme for Chamberlain this season - players stepping up when they're called upon but not trying to do more than they're comfortable with.

"We don't need any heroes,"coach Doug Aplin said. "We just need guys to do what they're capable of.

When Chamberlain and Port St. Lucie face off today at 4 p.m. in the state semifinals, stopping Devlin will no doubt be job No. 1 for the Jaguars. Aplin, however, isn't worried if Port St. Lucie is able to shut down his star player.

"James got us off to a great start against Largo, and then the defense clamped down on him. It's not the first time it happened," Aplin said, citing the region quarterfinal victory over Clearwater when Devlin, who hit four 3-pointers in the first half, was shut down in the second after the Tornadoes switched to a box-and-1 defense.

"All season we've had kids step up when James isn't able to score. We feel we'll be okay."