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Bronson beat Chiefland in the Indians' house, 63-49; but for a late run and some clutch free throws, it might have been a lot tighter.
"I was surprised by how quickly they got to the basket on us," said Eagles' head coach Kelly Beckham. "We really had to tighten up our defense."
Host Chiefland put its best foot forward by taking the first possession in for a basket. Tommy Sheffield rebounded Eugene Carter to start the Indians on an early lead.
The Indians stayed ahead for most of the first quarter, winding up eight points on a nice up-and-under by Stephen Davis and four free throws by Travis Donald.
Bronson got it together after facing a 6-0 deficit, and got on the board with a big cut-in shot by William Harris. Wilfredo Encarnacion and Terrance Dukes got to the line for a combined three of four, but it was Kelby Barber's three-pointer that gave the Eagles the 10-8 lead with a minute to go in the first.
Dukes opened the second quarter with a basket off the dish by Dion Thomas, but Reggie McClendon answered for Chiefland. Bronson pulled ahead with a deep two-pointer from James Rivers, followed by a Dion Thomas layup.
Carter narrowed the gap for Chiefland with a putback, but Thomas buried a step-back three, followed by a bucket from Encarnacion to open up a 22-13 Bronson lead.
Now Chiefland attacked the basket, driving and drawing, but couldn't get over 50 percent from the line. Both sides traded breaks, but with back-to-back field goals from Harris, the Eagles maintained their nine-point lead into the half.
Coming out of the locker rooms, the Eagles were again first to the hoop, as Harris scored off the inbounds. C.J. King added a jumper off the left side to open the Eagle lead to 13, before Tommy Sheffield tossed in a baby hook shot to slow the surge. Chiefland began to trap at both ends to slow the Bronson offense and get extra possessions. They also went hard to the boards, which had largely been controlled by Bronson.
The second chances helped Davis get a putback from Sheffield, and let the Indians start trading baskets again. This, in turn, helped keep Chiefland from falling further back. At the end of three quarters, Bronson led 46-34.
The Indians hit a turning point early in the fourth quarter, when they were down 48-34. Starting with a pair of baskets by Donald, Chiefland went on a 9-2 run to put them back into striking distance. A technical against Bronson brought two free throws and the ball, but the Indians couldn't convert and got no closer than seven points.
With under two minutes, the point guards for both sides worked overtime to get their teams ahead. Carter drove with a spin move in the lane, then moments later hit Davis on the break for another bucket. King was the ballhandler when Chiefland started to foul with just over a minute left, going five of six in his three trips to the line.
Beckham was happy with the free throws down the stretch; less so with the more modest success earlier in the game. "We make them in practice," he said. "We just have to translate that to the game."
Chiefland kept the game too close for comfort, he said, but added, "Any time you can get a win on the road, that's a good thing."
Chiefland assistant coach Bobby Schultz, speaking for head coach Mark Lundy, said the Indians' main plan against Bronson was "Defense, defense, defense."
Schultz said Lundy's approach toward fundamentals in practice is having the desired effect, and he was pleased with how well the team rebounded on the night.
"I think we did very well on the glass tonight, and we're very proud of this young team."
The loss knocks Chiefland to 4-6 overall, but Schultz said the numbers don't tell the story. "We only have two seniors out of 12 guys on this team," he said.
"We're not looking to the future right now, but the future does look bright for us."
Bronson: James Rivers, 13; William Harris, 7; C.J. King, 7
Chiefland: Travis Donald, 17; Tommy Sheffield, 12; Eugene Carter, 10