Rodney Swanson knew it almost got away. Walking off the court at Jamestown, all the Bruton senior could do was affirmatively nod his head in response to a reporter’s comment that they “snuck one out.”
Leading 54-41 with just over five minutes left in last night’s contest, it appeared as if the Panthers would ease through the next several minutes, take a bunch of foul shots and go home with an easy victory.
Jamestown was having none of that.
In less than two minutes, the Eagles ran off a 13-4 spurt, spurred by the gutsy effort of Braden Sutton, who turned a loose ball, and later, a rebound, into two baskets with a foul shot attached to the ends. His second three-point play closed the margin to 58-54 with 3:15 remaining. Swanson converted from the right corner to open the lead to six, but another Sutton basket, followed by two successful Keenan Gasway free throws made it a two-point game, 60-58, with 32.6 seconds remaining.
Fortunately, the Bruton (9-6, 7-6 in the BRD) offense was able to break through the Jamestown press and find Chauncey Burgazli open for a thunderous dunk with 20 ticks left on the clock to seal the win.
“We did a nice job of breaking that trap and finding Chauncey open for the dunk,” said Bruton coach Scott Joyner.
Speaking of his center, who blocked four shots and diverted several others, Joyner feels that the district’s tallest player is finally coming around.
“He (Burgazli) is getting in basketball shape. He had a bit of a nagging foot injury and back injury that was bothering him. It went all the way to Christmas. But I think he’s getting healthy now. There’s something about a big kid (6’9”) having problems with their feet. But he’s playing a lot better basketball right now.”
Joyner also noted the difficulty of playing right after exam week. “We practiced on Monday, took Tuesday and Wednesday off, so the kids could study, practiced yesterday. It’s always a tough game, the first game after exams.”
The Panthers opened up an early 14-8 lead, but Jamestown’s James Laycock nailed a three-pointer right before the first quarter buzzer to cut the lead in half. The theme would re-emerge early in the third quarter. Three Laycock treys helped the Eagles reduce a 30-18 halftime deficit to 36-35 with 1:35 left in the quarter. Only a late seven-point run by Bruton helped push the lead back to 45-37 before the quarter’s end.
“He (Laycock) can just plain shoot,” added Joyner. His 20 points (with 5 three pointers) led the Eagles, whose record now stands at 8-8 and 7-7 in the district. Sutton added 17 to go with a number of bumps and bruises caused by positioning for rebounds and diving for loose balls.
Brent Spencer led the Panthers with 16 points. Burgazli added 11 while Marcus Carter tacked on 10. The Panthers will engage in a home and away mini-series against Poquoson on Monday and Wednesday, to help make up a previously cancelled contest against the Islanders. The Eagles will face district leading Tabb next Wednesday.
BRUTON (9-6, 7-6 BRD) 14 16 15 17 – 62
JAMESTOWN (8-8, 7-7 BRD) 11 7 19 21 – 58
Bruton – Legaspi 4, Baker 7, Carter 10, Swanson 6, Burgazli 11, Spencer 16, Brown 2, Hill 4, Simmons 2
Jamestown – Reid 2, Gasway 8, Laycock 20, O’Brien 5, Williamson 6, Sutton 17