BRANDON — When Andre Lewis accepted the varsity boys basketball coaching job at Strawberry Crest when the East Hillsborough school opened in 2009, he did so with aspirations of molding an unknown program into a champion.
Year after year, the program improved, going from seven wins in its first year to a record 20-plus this season.
Lewis and the Chargers today finally experienced being a champion, winning the program’s first district title after defeating Brandon, 51-31, in the Class 7A-District 7 final.
Strawberry Crest (21-6) will host the District 8 runner-up in the region quarterfinals on Thursday, while Brandon will play at the district winner. Sickles and Freedom play for the 7A-8 championship Friday night at Sickles.
“That’s my passion, that’s what I thrive on, to take teams from the bottom to the top when no one expected them to do anything,” Lewis said. “That just comes from my passion and what was instilled in me coming up as a kid that gave me the passion to do it as a coach.”
Austin Griffin scored 16 points and Malik Channer added 15. Strawberry Crest led 24-14 at halftime, and Brandon couldn’t close the deficit to less than seven in the second half.
“The problem was, we couldn’t get anything good offensively,” Brandon coach Jamie Turner said.