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Eagles in district battle after Hawthorne loss

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By Jenna McKenna

BRONSON –The Bronson High boys basketball team faltered a little in its district chase last Tuesday when it lost to the Hawthorne Hornets in the second half of that district series.

Eagles'head coach Kelly Beckham called it an important win earlier in the season when Bronson beat the Hornets in Hawthorne.

Last Tuesday, Jan. 15, though, three days after finishing off a strong Oak Hall team on the road, Bronson was upset at home in a 62-49 loss to their old area rival and new district foe.

After the Hawthorne game, the Eagles had a 7-2 district record and remaining district dates with Branford, Oak Hall and Trenton.

Although the Eagles took the early lead in Tuesday's matchup, they never seemed to get control of the tempo. William Harris recovered a loose ball for Bronson and Rodolfo Contreras sank a three near the left sideline, then Terrance Dukes had a layup, giving the Eagles five unanswered points.

But Hawthorne got up to speed pretty quickly. Roderick Goggins and Edward Ray answered in quick succession, and Maurice Cook was the first man to the line for Hawthorne, forcing the first of many lead changes on the night to 6-5 Hawthorne.

Dukes and James Rivers went inside, and Rivers had a bucket and a putback to recover the Bronson lead, but three-pointers by Aaron Harriott and Jimmy Johnson gave the first quarter to the Hornets, 14-13.

The Eagles played strong in the second quarter, recapturing the lead immediately when Harris drove left and drew a foul. With his two free throws, Harris had six points on Bronson?s 14-point quarter, bolstered by a three and two free throws from Kelby Barber and two free throws from Dukes. Bronson used the press to force Hawthorne turnovers and scored on the takeaways. The Eagles went to the break up 27-25.

A different Hornets team returned from halftime. Powerfully motivated, they went on a 14-2 run before a three-point play from Dukes interrupted the flow. Bronson tried to regain control of the tempo. Rivers went to the line and finished, and Dion Thomas cut in from the baseline to score, bringing the Eagles back to within three. The Hornets got out and ran with the ball, though, and a burst from Jesse McFadin sent Hawthorne's lead to 43-36.

Hawthorne shot very well in the fourth quarter, with a three from Johnson, and with Johnson and Ray combining for six-of-eight from the line.

Goggins made the difference on the boards, finishing for Hawthorne and taking away seconds at the other end.

The Eagles fought back, as Barber took a steal in for a layup, but the team on the whole continued to struggle from the field and from the line. Rivers had a pair of free throws and a three in the last minute, and Dukes had a field goal and went two-for-four on the quarter. As time ran out, Goggins held the ball for Hawthorne.

"We had too many errors in the second half, both forced and unforced," said Beckham. "Besides that, Hawthorne shot the ball very well ? they had a very high percentage shooting."

The loss put Bronson in a first place tie with Hawthorne for the district lead.

"We expect that if we win out, the tiebreak should fall in our favor with district wins on the road," he said.

Beckham said to finish strong, the Eagles must shoot more consistently, especially against an Oak Hall team that likes to pack the zone and force them outside.

"We've been working on a lot of details in practice," he said. "All season, really, but especially in the last few weeks. We want to get the bugs ironed out before districts."

Leading scorers:

Bronson: Terrance Dukes, 16; William Harris, 11; James Rivers, 10.

Hawthorne: Maurice Cook, 12; Roderick Goggins, 11; Jimmy Johnson, 11.