The Branford boys varsity basketball team had a tough beginning to the new year after traveling to Monticello. A very talented Aucilla Christian team would be there waiting and dropped the Bucs 58-18 to keep the Bucs winless on the season.
The Bucs were just never able to get on track in this one with their leading scorer, sophomore Travis Williams, being shut out on the score board for the first time this season. Williams was able to do a nice job on the boards however with 7 rebounds. It would be another sophomore, Dustin Cannon, that would lead the Bucs with 9 points however. Other Bucs reaching the scoring column was Dan Hanley 3, Ronnie Jackson and Jacob Ludlam with 2 each, Brian Bullock and Randy Johnson with 1 each.
The Bucs would be scheduled to play in a tournament in Fort White on Friday night, but conflicts resulting in the Bucs hosting the Indians at the Branford gym. The final verdict in this game was another running clock to end the game and another convincing loss by a score of 71-42. But there was a ton of positives that came out of this game from my perspective. For those that wish to think ahead as opposed to looking at current results, I will go on record to state that the 2006-07 basketball season is going to be a special basketball year at Branford. Take a look at the outstanding sophomore class currently competing at the varsity level that includes Travis Williams, Dustin Cannon, Brian Bullock and Jacob Ludlam. Throw in some major contributors from the junior varsity squad of David Campbell, Michael Lindblade and Tim Clark, and there is going to be a team that will surprise a bunch of folks. Against a very strong Fort White team, the Bucs used 5 quick points by Dustin Cannon, and an active Williams on defense that included 4 rebounds, 2 blocks and a steal to stun the Indians early taking a 5-0 lead. The Indians would settle down to score the final nine points of the quarter, but the Bucs were playing some ball. The Indians took advantage of an aggressive press to open the game up with a 10 point run midway through the second quarter and went into the locker room with a 36-17 advantage. That lead would be extended in the third quarter to 50-17 after the Indians scored the first 14 points of the third quarter. But something strange happened. The Bucs used the senior leadership of Chris Tomlinson and went on a 10 point run of their own. Tomlinson issued out 5 assists and stole the ball on three occassions to fuel the run to pull the Bucs within a 59-35 margin early in the fourth quarter. Some more of that sophomore class started finding a little offensive rhythym with Bullock and Williams each connecting on 6 points.
Even though the score looked like just another day at the Branford gym with the same results, the numbers reflected sophomores Cannon and Williams scoring 10 points each, with Bullock adding 8 points. Williams also led the team with 9 rebounds.
There was also a couple of seniors aside from Tomlinson who produced outstanding games in this one. Ben Wingate produced 7 rebounds, grabbed two steals and scored 5 points. Ronnie Jackson scored 2 points with 4 rebounds, a steal and had one assist.
Also adding to the Bucs offense on the night was Tyler Byrd with 4 points, Ludlam with 2 points, and Randy Johnson with one point.
The junior varsity boys started the new year out on a higher note getting their second win of the season with a convincing 40-21 win over an outmanned Warriors team. The defense was tenacious as usual shutting out Aucilla in the first quarter, 5-0. The offense geared up in the second quarter with Lindblade and Campbell getting it going. Campbell and Lindblade would share scoring honors for the game with both players scoring 11 points. Other offensive contributors was Bradley Bullock with 5, Cody Dicks 4, Andrew Johnson 3, Alex Sarandos, Tim Clark and Decota Beville scoring two points each.
Even though the news was not as good on Friday night following a 57-35 setback to Fort White, the junior varsity team certainly competed taking an early 9-6 lead before falling behind 15-11 at the end of one period. Campbell led the way in the first half with 4 points, a rebound and a blocked shot. He was able to get to the free throw line in the first period, but only made 2-6. He would finish the night with 8 points, 2 blocks, 2 rebound and a steal. The Bucs were only down 24-21 at the half behind the contributions of Lindblade who would finish the night with a team high 11 points, 5 rebounds and 2 blocked shots.
The Indians pressured the Bucs into multiple turnovers in the third quater to open the lead to 47-29 after three quarters. The Bucs would score the first four points of the final quarter but would fall to the talented Indians 57-35.
Despite the loss, the Bucs also received some impressive performances. Andrew Johnson finished the night with 6 points, 4 steals and grabbed 4 rebounds in an outstanding effort. Coach Stebbins has the luxury of creating caos at any time he wishes during a game with the entrance of Tim Clark. Clark would finish the night with 5 points and 2 steals, but it does not take long when he enters the game for players to hit the floor. Clark gets after it on the court, and created problems for the Indians all night long defensively and on the boards.
The 2006-07 year is going to be a good one, but results to that time for the remainder of this season and next year will prove that point. The 2006-07 will be the final year for Coach Garman, and his patience and knowledge of the game will come to front at that time with his hard work and dedication to this group finally paying off. Look for the players to reward this outstanding coach with a year to remember as he finishes his contibution to the Branford High School basketball program.