(Too) late shot lifts bobcats

Published: Saturday, January 11, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 11, 2003 at 12:05 a.m.

In a season chock full of injuries, late-game mistakes and just plain tough breaks, the Buchholz boys basketball team was in dire need of something - anything - positive to help turn things around.

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Gainesville's Carl Brown drives to the hoop against Buchholz on Friday during the first round of the City Championships.

TRISTAN MAHER / Special to The Sun

The Bobcats may have gotten that, as well as some missing luck, when Dan Frank sank a 14-foot jump shot that videotape conclusively showed was released after the final buzzer to beat rival Gainesville, 56-54, in the first city championship semifinal Friday night at Eastside High School.

"I told our kids the other day that we may be the best 5-7 (now 6-7) team in the state," Buchholz coach Bob Horodyski said after the game which was played with two, and not the usual three, officials. "We've played an extremely difficult schedule and have been pretty competitive with just about everyone we played. For whatever reasons, we haven't been able to pull games out.

"I think our kids' pride has been smacked down, but they showed a lot of pride here. They played well throughout.

"Hey, the shot probably was late, but this team deserves to have some nice things happen."

Hurricanes' coach Tony Wise, whose team had clawed back from a seven-point fourth-quarter deficit to tie the score on a layup by Brandon Williams with 4.6 seconds left, only wishes that good fortune had come against someone else.

"What can you tell 'em?" Wise said after being asked what he told his players. "The shot was late - it wasn't even close. But that's not what beat us. Bob's kids have gotten so much better and are playing with so much more confidence, and late or not, Frank did hit the shot."

Wise gave particular praise to Buchholz senior swingman Chris Bright, who has struggled with an ankle injury all year, but at times was dominant against GHS (11-2), getting game-highs in points (22), rebounds (12) and dished out a team-best three assists.

"My ankle's still hurt, and it actually bothered me some (Friday) morning," said Bright, whose club's victory ended Gainesville's run of six straight city titles. "But I dared myself to play without getting it taped and I felt pretty good out there."

The Bobcats led most of the contest, but trailed the entire first quarter, as Hurricanes' junior point guard Ron Larris toyed with the Buchholz defense, scoring 12 points, mostly on penetrations. But the Bobcats cut off the middle of the lane the rest of the night and Larris only was able to add a free throw in the fourth quarter to his total.

Offensively, Bright was seconded by senior forward Jerome Strowbridge, who scored 16 points and added seven rebounds.

For his part, Frank wasn't much of a scoring factor most of the game, but the jumper that gave him his sixth and seventh points may go a long way in altering the direction of Buchholz's season.

"We always feel like GHS is a monkey on our backs," Frank said. "We beat them at the end of last year, but pretty much every other time, they've gotten by us. We know if we beat them, we've beaten a good team and that should help us the rest of the way."

You can reach John Patton by calling 374-5074 or by e-mail at pattonj@gvillesun.com.

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