Bradenton Christian boys, girls basketball teams fall in opening round of Smoothie King

BCS boys, girls fall into consolation bracket at Smoothie King

jdill@bradenton.comDecember 28, 2013 

BRADENTON -- Coleman Barber set his feet and fired the 3-pointer that had the Bradenton Christian faithful rising from their seats in anticipation of hearing the ball swishing through the net as the final seconds ticked off the clock.

Panthers head coach Scott Townsend said it looked like it was going in from his view.

The ball, though, went in and out.

Consequently, BCS fell just shy in its comeback attempt during Friday's first round of the Smoothie King Classic against Citrus Park Christian.

The Eagles bested the tournament hosts 74-72.

BCS (3-6) put itself in a hole during the fourth quarter when Citrus Park (9-1) went on an 8-0 run.

"We just didn't play very well defensively, and we didn't take care of the basketball," Townsend said.

But rather than giving into the deficit, the Panthers slowly clawed their way back. They trailed the Eagles by nine points on two different occasions, but a quick-hitting offense provided the jolt BCS needed to stage the late theatrics.

"We had them," Townsend said. "We were right there, we just couldn't get a shot to fall there at the end. That's just the way it goes."

In the final minute, BCS gave itself a chance for one last attempt at sending the game into overtime after eighth-grader Damien Gordon nailed two free throws and the Panthers' defense forced a quick turnover.

In the transition attempt, Barber found himself alone behind the 3-point line as Citrus Park defenders came barreling toward him.

However, the senior's long-range bomb didn't drop, and Barber finished the game with 12 points despite going scoreless in the final frame.

"He was struggling a little bit, but I was hoping he could get it going," Townsend said.

Following the miss, Citrus Park's Malik Garner converted a free throw to make it a two-possession game with 4.1 seconds remaining. The Panthers made a layup as the final buzzer sounded to produce the final tally.

Sophomore Ryan Leunk finished with a team-high 18 points, while sophomore Jake Lister (17 points) and Gordon (15 points) also cracked the double-figure scoring column.

The loss sends the Panthers into Saturday's consolation bracket against Lakeland Victory Christian, which fell 70-46 to West Palm Beach Cardinal Newman in a first-round game Friday.

Citrus Park, which was led by junior Raekwon Henderson's game-high 19 points, plays Cardinal Newman in a semifinal Saturday.

On the girls side, BCS was also defeated in the first round by an out-of-area squad. Seven Rivers Christian defeated the Panthers 39-24 to advance to Saturday's semifinal.

BCS (5-8) kept the game close in the first half and led Seven Rivers by two heading into the intermission.

Then the Warriors reinserted senior Alexis Zachar, whose noticeable height advantage hampered the Panthers' ability to rebound the basketball and gain any traction in the paint.

That substitution -- Zachar was saddled with foul trouble in limited first half action -- coupled with BCS going cold from the field enabled Seven Rivers to break the game open.

"When you only score that many points, you don't win many games," Panthers head coach Jim Van Til said.

The Warriors cruised past BCS, which converted just five field goal attempts in the second half.

Katie Swaagman led BCS with seven points.

The Panthers meet Shorecrest in a consolation bracket matchup Saturday.

Boys

SARASOTA CHRISTIAN 72, MANATEE 50 -- The Blazers pounded the Hurricanes in the first round.

Manatee fell to 2-9 and received double-figure scoring from Justin Arcina (15 points) and Greg Reaves (11 points).

The Canes play Cape Coral in Saturday's consolation bracket at 2 p.m.

BAYSHORE 59, CAPE CORAL 50 -- The Bruins (5-8) used a strong third quarter to break open a tight game during the first half.

Bayshore outscored the Seahawks 18-6 in the third quarter to advance to Saturday's semifinal against Sarasota Christian, which is slated for a 5 p.m. start.

Seniors Justin Harris (18 points) and Wesley Jackson (15 points) led the Bruins.

Girls

BAYSHORE 54, CARDINAL MOONEY 33 -- The Bruins earned a first round victory over the Cougars behind the combination of Monica Gilley and Joy Norman.

Gilley, a sophomore, drained five 3-pointers en route to a game-high 15 points, while Norman contributed 14 points as the Bruins improved to 6-9.

Mooney (5-7) was led by freshman Jacqueline Kulle's 12 points.

Bayshore faces Sarasota Christian at 3:30 p.m. Saturday in the winners bracket, while Mooney takes on Englewood Lemon Bay in a consolation game at 9:30 a.m.

MANATEE 67, SHORECREST PREP 44 -- The Hurricanes dominated the Chargers to move into Saturday's semifinals.

Bree Thomas led a quartet of double-digit scorers for Manatee with a game-high 21 points.

O'Nessha Shaw (19 points), Nicole Hittel (10 points) and Jacqui Armer (10 points) rounded out the Canes punishing offense on Friday.

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