Braden River gets its revenge over Cardinal Mooney in Suncoast Holiday Classic

adell@bradenton.comDecember 29, 2013 

SARASOTA -- The last time the Braden River boys basketball team faced Cardinal Mooney, the Pirates were embarrassed.

Braden River scored only 29 points and lost by 34 in a game that went to a mercy rule running clock.

The Pirates didn't forget and showed no mercy of its own in earning a 58-42 victory over the Cougars in a consolation round game of the Suncoast Holiday Tournament on Saturday at Riverview High.

This was more than a consolation prize for Braden River (6-7). It was sweet revenge, and the Pirates celebrated as if they won the tournament.

"I reminded our kids about that game and how embarrassing it was for our program," Braden River head coach Matt Nesser said. "I am proud of our guys for this game. They showed a lot of character against a good basketball team. Usually when you play hard, smart and together, good things happen."

The Pirates came out with a defensive intensity that was missing in their first meeting and limited Cardinal Mooney (7-4) to four field goals on 23 shots in the first half while bolting out to a 25-11 halftime lead.

In the second quarter, Cardinal Mooney had only one field goal on 11 attempts for its only two points, and that came with 1 minute, 35 seconds left in the period. Meanwhile, Braden River canned five of 10 shots and finished the first half hitting 11 of 22 from the field, including two of five from beyond the arc.

Zach Kendall tallied eight of his game-high 20 points in the third quarter to help Braden River increase its lead to 39-17 heading into the final period. The Cougars were 2 for 9 shooting in the third quarter.

"Our coaches told us if our hearts are not in it we are not going to win, and we wanted it more than them," Kendall said. "The first time we played them our hearts were not in it, and we weren't playing defense. We weren't contesting the three and weren't boxing out. That game woke us up."

Cardinal Mooney finally came to life with 25 points in the final quarter, but it was too little, too late. The Cougars suffered a poor shooting night for the second straight game, connecting on only 15 of 45, including 7 for 26 on two-point field goals.

Ryan McMahon, Mooney's best long range shooter, struggled from beyond arc for the second straight game, draining 3 of 9 to lead the Cougars with 11 points. Guard Justin Najmy contributed 10 points.

"We struggled to make shots like the other night. I didn't think our defense was that bad. Give Braden River credit. They hit some tough shots," Cardinal Mooney head coach Stephon Gates said. "The beat us to some of the 50-50 balls, and we have to do a better job there." We weren't 35 points better than them that night. They are a much better team. We've had some pretty good looks over the last two nights that we haven't cashed in on."

Isiah Garrett had 12 points and dished out five assists, and Deondrick Bacon chipped in 12 points for Braden River. The Pirates' big man, 6-foot-7 Michael Braxton, didn't score but had nine rebounds and blocked seven shots.

Other consolation games:

PALMETTO 82, LAKE HOWELL 56 -- The Tigers (13-2) rebounded from their second-round loss to Sickles and dominated against Lake Howell (1-11).

Jarrid Rhodes led the way with 20 points and pulled in a game-high 15 rebounds. Jordan Young, the other half of the Tigers' twin towers, scored 17 points and collected seven boards. Sophomore Tre Clark had 11 points and three rebounds, and Kyle Edwards grabbed six rebounds and contributed eight points.

Palmetto and Braden River were supposed to face each other Monday in a consolation game but agreed not to play, and both are done for the tournament. They each went 2-1.

EAST BAY 80, SOUTHEAST 62 -- Larry Woodard had a career night with 28 points, but it wasn't enough as Gibsonton East Bay (12-2) showed it was one of the better teams in the tournament, with its only loss coming against Palmetto.

Woodard drained six shots from beyond the arc and scored 14 points in the fourth quarter. Ronald Taylor, the Seminoles' leading scorer for the season, was held to four points.

Southeast (9-5) finished the tournament 1-2.

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