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Bruton's 84-55 win against Washington & Lee on Saturday evening seemed less like a Conference 33 semifinal matchup and more like a preseason tune-up game for the Panthers.
Rather than face a tough four quarters of action, Bruton's starters were able to effectively cruise through the first three quarters of play and allow bench players to close the game out in the fourth quarter.
For Bruton Coach Brenner Carter, the ability to give his starters some rest and reserve players meaningful playing time during the playoffs is a much-welcome circumstance.
"We're still kind of tired from exams and traveling a lot," he said. "Our bench players probably played more tonight than they've been playing almost all year. It gave our starters some time to sit back and cheer their teammates on."
The Panthers came out aggressively in the first quarter, opening the game on a 12-1 run through the first four minutes of play.
While both Washington & Lee and Bruton came out playing press defenses, the Panthers were able to navigate through the press and get into a rhythm offensively.
Conversely, the Eagles struggled to maintain possession against the Panthers and committed numerous turnovers while trying to get into their halfcourt offense.
With Bruton leading 20-5 after the first quarter, the Panthers continued building on their lead in the second quarter thanks to seven players recording points in the quarter.
Perhaps the biggest statement play of the game came from Bruton's Daniel Jones with 2:04 left in the first half. Jones picked off a pass at midcourt and finished the play with a thunderous dunk and brought Bruton fans to their feet.
Jones' slam dunk put the Panthers up 33-13 and sent a message that Bruton would not go down easy on its home court. By halftime, Bruton carried a commanding 37-17 lead over the Eagles.
Bruton's offense picked up in the second half as the Panthers scored 12 points during the first 2:30 of the third quarter to take a 49-24 lead.
Leading the way for Bruton in the third quarter was senior Jalen Carr, who scored 12 of his team-high 19 points during the quarter. Bruton found its rhythm from behind the 3-point line, sinking four 3-pointers during the breakout third quarter.
With the Panthers leading 63-31 by the end of the third quarter, the Panthers subbed in reserve players to close out the game and guarantee Bruton a spot in the Group 2A East tournament.
Before Bruton (15-5) heads to the regional tournament, the Panthers will host the winner of Nandua and King William on Wednesday during the Conference 33 finals.
Washington & Lee: 5 12 14 24 — 55
Bruton: 20 17 26 21 — 84
Washington & Lee: Sumiel 19, Fulcher 4, White 6, Kelly 11, Cu. Bell 3, Johnson 5, Ca. Bell 3, Lee 2, Johnson 2
Bruton: Jones 6, Calloway 12, Carr 19, Taylor 10, Adkins 7, Wallace 7, Danek 2, Teach 6, Dockery 9, Hood 3, Ashlock 3
3-point goals: Washington & Lee 5 (Sumiel 3, Kelly, Bell), Bruton 6 (Carr 2, Taylor 2, Adkins, Dockery)
WCA Dominates Portsmouth Christian at Home
Williamsburg Christian Academy ran wild against Portsmouth Christian during a 91-57 blowout win at home Saturday evening.
The Eagles dominated from the outset, opening the game on a 9-0 run. After Portsmouth Christian snapped WCA's scoring run, the Eagles responded with a 19-0 run to take a 28-2 advantage in the first quarter.
By halftime, WCA had put the game well out of reach for Portsmouth Christian as the Eagles led 50-22.
The second half was more of the same as WCA continued to carve through the Portsmouth Christian defense with ease.
Xavier Green led the way for WCA with 16 points, while Andre Brown and Da'Shawn Cook had 13 points and 12 points, respectively.
WCA (22-5) will now prepare to visit Alliance Christian Academy on Tuesday.
Individual statistics were not reported for this game.
Portsmouth Christian: 6 16 21 14 — 57
Williamsburg Christian: 30 20 25 16 — 91