Rising to the occasion

Seven strong, Bruins shell Spartans 84-60 to reach championship game

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With just seven players available and staring at a 10-0 deficit, the host Beddingfield High varsity boys team stormed to an 84-60 conquest of 3-A Smithfield-Selma in the semifinals of the 43rd edition of the Farris & Farris Holiday Tournament for varsity boys basketball teams on Wednesday night.

Despite possessing the poorest record (3-5) in the four-team field, the Bruins of head coach Joe Dvozenja will play for their 11th championship on their court at approximately 8 p.m. Friday against the survivor of the Fike-Hunt showdown scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Thursday.

The outcome denied the guest Smithfield-Selma teams their first semifinals sweep as, in the opening game, the Lady Spartans outlasted Beddingfield in overtime. Smithfield-Selma’s boys (4-5) failed to reach the championship for the fourth time in as many tries during the tenure of head coach Matt Cuddington.

Ignited by sophomore Mike Best with a career-high 30 points, the Bruins of the 2-A Eastern Plains Conference simply responded with sensational basketball the last three quarters.

Five turnovers the first three minutes led to the Spartans bolting to their 10-0 start.

Best, 6-foot-5 junior Avery Huggins, 6-4 Trevon Brantley, sophomore Lamont Speight and Javon Best played the majority of the minutes with C.J. Williams and Reggie Grant filling in.

Best was complemented by Speight with 15 points, Brantley with 14, Best with 12 and Huggins with nine. Brantley snared 11 rebounds and Huggins nine.

Keon Langston jump-started the Spartans to their 14-9 advantage after one quarter — when the hurry-minded Bruins committed eight turnovers.

But a 3-pointer from Best bombed Beddingfield from a 16-16 tie into the lead for keeps and ignited a decisive 13-0 tear.

“After the first quarter, we played excellent,” said the Bruins’ pleased Dvozenja. “We settled down and played at a decent pace.

“We did a good job of limiting them to one shot and, defensively, of finding No. 1 (senior guard Anthony Council). We had to know where he was and make him have tough shots. I think he only had a couple of open shots.”

Coucil rebounded from a slow start to rally the Spartans, down 31-23 at halftime, in the third quarter. But back-to-back 3s from Huggins and Brantley boosted the Bruins to a 45-29 margin. The cushion reached 20 points for the first time at 51-31 on Speight’s bucket and topped out at 78-52 on a three-point play from Best.

Council, averaging 28.6 points, wound up with 25 points but hit just 8-of-24 shots from the floor and was forced into a handful of turnovers by hawking Beddingfield defenders. Sha’kerr Howard fired in 17 points and Langston netted 10.

In the last three quarters, the Bruins buried 22-of-35 shots from the floor for 63-percent accuracy. Beddingfield swished 22-of-28 free-throw attempts with Best going 9 of 10. The taller Bruins owned a 27-25 rebounding edge and wound up committing 23 turnovers as compared to 19 for the Spartans.

Of the stretch after building a 20-point lead, Dvozenja noted: “We did a really good job of running the clock out.”

The Bruins next eye a title shot.

“Getting to the championship game was our goal,” Dvozenja revealed. “Absolutely, we can win it. Our goal is to keep getting better every game. As they gell and become selfess, the baskets, the points and good things will come from playing as a team. Winning is fun and playing basketball the way we are now is fun to watch.”



Council 25, George, Langston 10, Hicks 2, Howard 17, Atkinson, Sanders, Tyson 2, Faulk 2, Brown 2.


Huggins 9, Brantley 14, Best 30, Speight 15, Williams 4, Best 12, Grant.


Score by quarters:

Smithfield-Selma 14 9 19 18 60

Beddingfield 9 22 26 27 84