Braden River and Cardinal Mooney advance to Suncoast Holiday Classic semis

adell@bradenton.comDecember 28, 2012 

SARASOTA -- Braden River played as if it were auditioning for a demolish derby, and Cardinal Mooney again proved to be a giant killer in second-round action of the 21st annual Suncoast Holiday Classic on Thursday at Riverview High.

Braden River steamrolled South Fort Myers 50-28, forcing a running clock less than two minutes into the second half, and Cardinal Mooney knocked off a highly touted opponent for the second straight night in earning a 54-50 triumph over Tampa Sickles.

Behind another big game from Trevon Young, Braden River (9-2) took a 36-8 halftime lead and never looked back extending the margin to 50-13 after three quarters.

The 6-foot-7 senior center led all scorers with 16 points, connecting on 8 of 10 shots. The Pirates' other double-figure scorer was Terrance Cummings with 13 points on 5 for 8 shooting, including draining three of four from beyond the arc.

The Pirates limited SFM (4-6) to two field goals on 21 attempts in the first half with their pressure man-to-man defense and dominated the boards 16-2 with Ryan Hintz grabbing five.

"We were happy with our first unit. The rotation was good, and we had 12 assists in the first half," Braden River head coach Matt Nesser said. "It's a little scary to start the third quarter when you have a big lead because you tend to get lackadaisical, but we actually extended the lead. We shared the ball and played solid defense."

Cardinal Mooney again showed its mettle and ability to play under pressure in beating Sickles (10-2), which is 10th in the Class 6A rankings. The Cougars (12-1) defeated No. 4 (Class 8A) Miami Carol City in opening-round action on Wednesday.

Mooney dropped from 12th to 14th in the newest MaxPrep Class 4A rankings, which were released Thursday. But it doesn't matter to the Cougars, who are enjoying perhaps the finest run in the history of the program.

The Cougars were out-rebounded 21-13 and only got off 38 shots but made the most of them, canning 9 of 20 from beyond the arc. Sickles was 8 for 16 from

3-point land.

Mooney trailed 45-41 midway through the fourth quarter when it caught fire from long range. Ryan McMahon drained two from beyond the arc sandwiched around a basket by Antonio Blakeney to go ahead 49-48.

Sickles regained the lead, but Blakeney responded with a trey for a 52-50 lead with 2:10 left.

The sophomore then got a key block and with 8.1 seconds left, and Jamie Glasser converted both ends of a 1-and-1 to account for the final score.

It was the second straight game that McMahon hit clutch shots from the 3- point bonus land. The 5-11 sophomore guard finished with nine points and drained 3 of 5 from beyond the arc. He also led Cardinal Mooney with five steals.

"I like pressure. I try to thrive under pressure. You practice every day and eventually it's going to pay off," McMahon said. "I am known as a 3-point shooter, but when I come off the bench my job is to play defense and provide energy for the team. The atmosphere here is great with the crowd and it keeps you focused."

Blakeney topped the Cougars with 18 points (7-for-16 shooting) and grabbed five rebounds. Cardinal Mooney's other double figure scorer was Glasser, who chipped in 10 points.

The Cougars shot 19 for 38 and Sickles was 19 for 39, but the difference was turnovers. The Gryphons turned the ball over 16 times to only eight for Mooney, which came up with eight steals in the second half.

"We talked about being more physical in the second half, and that's what got us back in the game," Mooney head coach Stephan Gates said. "We just take it one game at a time, and that's a nice team. Any time you can get a win in a tournament like this, it's a good thing. We handle pressure well. We have a lot of guys who are willing to step up and take big shots in big situations and handle the ball in big situations."

Undermanned Southeast couldn't keep up with host Riverview (9-4), which used its height and depth to record a 67-44 victory over the Seminoles (4-5) in a quarterfinal game.

Antonio Ray led Southeast with 15 points. Isaiah Mays had 12 and Markcene Jean contributed 11. Riverview's big man 6-8 junior Nick Havener led all scorers with 19 points.

"We got to be able to come out buzzer to buzzer and put forth some effort. I felt mentally we were on another planet," Southeast head coach Elliot Washington said. "We talked about it all year; the inconsistencies of coming out ready to go when the buzzer starts. We were playing from behind (all game) and that is something no team should have to do. We wanted to stop number 25 (Havener) and get off to a good start and we couldn't do either."

In semifinal action tonight, Cardinal Mooney faces Fort Myers at 6 p.m. and Braden River takes on Riverview at 7:30. Fort Myers defeated Sarasota Christian 84-66 in its quarterfinal.

Consolation round

Carol City topped Palmetto 53-49, and Sarasota Booker defeated Manatee 68-41.

Jarrid Rhodes led Palmetto with 17 points. while Tre Williams and Khalil Garcia contributed eight points apiece.

Greg Reaves led Manatee with 11 points.

Consolation games have Palmetto and Manatee meeting at 11:45 a.m. and Southeast taking on South Fort Myers at 4:30 p.m.

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