BRANDON — Not again. Not on his home floor.
After losing three straight games to rival East Bay, including last year’s district championship game, Brandon High junior guard Pedro Lopez willed his Eagles to a 49-41 victory Tuesday night at Brandon, putting his team in the Class 7A-District 7 championship while ending East Bay’s season at 18-7.
Brandon, the third seed in the tournament, will face top seed Strawberry Crest tonight at 7. The Chargers defeated Plant City 52-43 in the other semifinal.
Lopez scored eight of his team’s 14 fourth-quarter points in the victory and finished with a team-high 12 points along with five steals and three assists.
“This is a big win,” Lopez said. “We’ve been waiting for this all year. The coaches prepared us well for this game.”
A layup by Lopez with 6:42 left in the fourth quarter gave Brandon (15-11) a 37-27 lead. East Bay, however, would go on a 9-0 run to make it a one-point game with 3:21 to play. But Lopez snapped East Bay’s run with four points of his own and single-handedly broke the Indians’ full-court press on multiple occasions to run out the clock.
“Coach just told me to play my game and be aggressive, and that’s what I did,” Lopez said.
Khevin Wilson added 10 points for Brandon, while Anton Crutcher and Marwan Williams each had 10 points for East Bay.
Senior forward Austin Griffin led Strawberry Crest with 16 points as the Chargers clinched their second regional appearance and the first 20-win season in program history. Senior Gio Diaz led Plant City with eight points.
Strawberry Crest is seeking its first district title.
“We have the tools to do it,” said Chargers coach Andre Lewis. “Our mindset as a team has to be a championship mentality.
2A-8: Faith Warriors earn region berth
TAMPA — Three players scored in double figures as top seed Bayshore Christian secured its first regional tournament appearance since 2008 with a 73-41 victory over Odessa Christian in the district tournament semifinals Tuesday.
The Faith Warriors (22-3), ranked eighth in the state, will play second-seeded Canterbury in the district championship Friday at 6:30 p.m.
“It feels good,” said Bayshore Christian coach Broderick Day. “We’ve worked hard to get there. This all comes from the players working hard and staying with the system.”
Matt Eckermann had a team-high 19 points, while Greg Johnson and Josh Humphries added 16 and 12 points, respectively. The Faith Warriors led 37-19 at the half.
Canterbury defeated sixth-seeded Citrus Park Christian, 65-44, in the other semifinal.