LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Lakewood Ranch head boys basketball coach Jeremy Schiller didn't want to explain to the student body why he can't beat archrival Braden River.
Fortunately he won't have to worry about that anymore.
In his third season, Schiller got his first victory over Braden River in five games when the host Mustangs hung on for a 46-43 Class 7A-District 10 triumph on Friday night.
"I am really excited about it. One of the things that happen on this campus is that if you don't beat Braden River, sometimes you get picked on a little bit," Schiller said. "The last few years, I got a reprieve, but this year they were going to be coming for me on Monday. So it will be a little easier to come to school."
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The Mustangs (4-4, 1-1) were virtually unstoppable in the second quarter when they connected on eight of nine field goal attempts and outscored Braden River 22-8, limiting the Pirates to only six shots to take 31-17 halftime lead.
The third quarter was just the opposite. Lakewood Ranch shot 1 for 17 from the field and scored only five points as Braden River (3-4, 1-1) cut its deficit to 36-25.
The Pirates opened the fourth quarter on a 7-1 run behind Zach Kendall to trail 37-33 with 2:59 left in the game. Josh Rountree hit two key buckets inside to help Lakewood Ranch stay ahead.
Kendall, who scored 10 of his game-high 14 points in the fourth quarter, scored with 23 seconds left to pull Braden River within a point at 44-43
with 23 seconds left.
Roundtree converted one of two free throw attempts to push the lead up to 45-43 with 15.2 seconds remaining. Braden River missed a shot and Justin Otis made one of two foul shots with 2.6 seconds left to account for the final score.
"We came out in the second half excited and lost our pace a little bit and they did a phenomenal job of defending us," Schiller said. "It was a closely matched game, and what you expect from Braden River and Lakewood Ranch. It's all about the heart of the kids and both teams battled like crazy. Josh's play in the fourth quarter really helped us and I was impressed how we overcame adversity."
The Mustangs had a rough time with Braden River's 6-7 senior Michael Braxton, who blocked 10 shots and pulled down 12 rebounds while contributing nine points.
Rountree led Lakewood Ranch with 11 points. Otis chipped in nine points and Sam Hester added eight. Cameron Darby had six rebounds.
Both teams struggled from the free throw line. Braden River was 9 for 21 from the charity stripe and Ranch converted 13 of 22 free throws.
It was the fourth straight loss for Braden River.
"Offensively we are struggling like crazy. We are not the type of team to fall behind 14 points. We don't have the capacity to come back," Braden River head coach Matt Nesser said. "Michael (Braxton) is coming around. He was hurt and missed all of last year. He has a phenomenal knack for timing on blocked shots and was presence tonight. This team has a lot of heart and we will continue to work."
Lakewood Ranch shot 15-43 and was 12-19 in the first half. Braden River was 17 for 41 and connected on 12 of 16 shots in the second half. The Pirates out rebounded the Mustangs 17-7 in the second half.