Williston wins; Eastside and Bradford fall in tourney
Published: Saturday, January 12, 2013 at 11:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 13, 2013 at 12:11 a.m.
The Hoop Exchange Gator Classic closed Saturday night with a thrilling finish as Winter Haven erased a seven-point deficit in the final two minutes to beat tournament host Eastside, 51-47.
A close game throughout, Winter Haven held a 24-19 cushion at halftime through consistent dribble penetration from guards Ismael Celestin and Chance McSpadden. Eastside, however, would close off the driving lanes in the third quarter to tie the game 28-28.
Senior leader Sir Jackson hit a lay-up at the two minute mark to give the Rams a 46-39 lead. He would add a free throw down the stretch for a team-high 14 points, but the Rams could not hold off a late charge by Winter Haven.
“With so much youth, Sir had to force shots,” said Eastside head coach Pop Williams. “When it came down to key plays, we didn't box out and we missed too many free throws.”
McSpadden finished a huge 27-point effort for Winter Haven with seven consecutive points down the stretch to seal the victory. Celestin added 16 points for the Blue Devils.
“The effort was pretty good tonight,” said Williams. “We will go back to the drawing board. More teaching and more basics.”
Williston 79, West Orange 62: Williston kicked off the Hoop Exchange Gator Classic with a victory over Winter Garden West Orange.
A one-point game in the second quarter, the Red Raiders closed the half with a 14-4 run and never looked back.
High flying junior Earl Brown led Williston in scoring with 22 points. JayR Perkins put up 26 points in a losing effort for West Orange.
St. Thomas Aquinas 63, Bradford 46: In an exciting game two, Fort Lauderdale's St. Thomas Aquinas pulled away from Bradford for a 63-46 win.
Leading 28-22 at the half, the Raiders used double digit efforts from junior Sidney Umude and seniors John Hunter and Papa Ndiaye to start the second half on a 24-6 run.
A battle of two University of Central Florida recruits, senior Steve Haney added nine points to St. Thomas Aquinas' victory. Bradford senior Justin McBride, his future teammate, led the Tornadoes in scoring with 13 points, but had a rough night shooting both from the floor and the free-throw stripe.
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