Branford's Kayla Desmartin shoots in the Buccaneers' win Thursday against Bronson.

BRANFORD — Cera McElreath scored 30 and Kayla Desmartin added 19 as Branford downed Bronson 59-43 on Thursday.

The Buccaneers improved to 8-5, while Bronson dropped to 8-7.

The Bucs jumped out to an early 19-7 lead, with Desmartin and McElreath racking up the points, which were partially assisted by a Branford press that help force turnovers in four of the first five Bronson possessions.

“We all worked very well on the press at the beginning of the game,” Desmartin said.

The Eagles clawed back with a 3-pointer and a basket by Neomi Thomas to make it 19-10 at the end of the first. Thomas led Bronson with 18 points.

Then the Bucs started committing some turnovers of their own and managed just six points in the second quarter, while Bronson scored 12 to make it 25-22 at halftime.

Although Desmartin had a good scoring night, and was excited about her “awesome” point production, she said she made some mistakes.

“As a team it was one of our best games,” she said. “But individually, no, I had too many turnovers and missed shots.”

She added that she needs to work on “being strong when I drive.”

In the third the Buccaneers regained control as McElreath staged a point-fest, scoring on two free throws, a basket, a banked-in 3-pointer and a steal and conversion for nine points. Zambia Granado added two on an offensive rebound and basket and the Bucs led 38-30 after three.

McElreath started the fourth with a basket from an inbound pass. But Bronson kept it close, with Branford leading 40-35 with about six minutes left.

But Branford’s Desmartin twins Kayla and Kyla highlighted an 11-0 surge, with each making a 3-pointer, that ended with a McElreath basket to make it 51-35 with about four minutes to go.

Kyla Desmartin is the team’s third leading scorer and nabbed six for the night.

“Pointwise, I had an off night, but all around, the whole court, I had a decent game,” Kyla Desmartin said. “Defensively I’m getting better from where I wanted to be at the beginning of the season. I think I’m getting way better on defense.”

McElreath leads Branford in point production with 254, which is almost 20 points a game. Kayla Desmartin is second with 202 points, though she edges McElreath as the team’s leader in 3-point baskets with 27 to 23. McElreath also leads the team in rebounds with 67 thru 12 games.

With 3:10 to go Kayla Desmartin provided another highlight with snatching a ball that was about to drop out of bounds, and flipping it to McElreath who made it 53-39.

Starting Friday, Branford has four district games in a row with two of them at Trenton (Tuesday) and at Hilliard (Jan. 25), who are atop the district standings. Branford is third.

“I think we’re close to being where we want to be (for district games), but the break kinda set us back,” Kyla Desmartin said. “So we’re trying to get back to how we were playing before the break. We’re getting there.”

Jeff Shourds is a sports writer for the Suwannee Democrat, Jasper News and Mayo Free Press.

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