Streaks nip Bulldogs

SEBRING - Sebring overcame 27 turnovers and a cold-shooting night to beat DeSoto by a score of 67-60 in the foul-plagued district opener for both teams on Tuesday night.

The Class 5A-District 11 loss dropped the Bulldogs to 0-2 overall and 0-1 in district play, while the win improved the Blue Streaks to 2-1, 1-0.

"We faced some adversity and our guys responded with a win," said Sebring boys basketball coach Princeton Harris. "It's good to get that first district win and I saw some good things, but I saw some negative things that we have to work on.

"It's still early and we're going to get better."

Both teams struggled shooting the ball to open the game and Sebring took an early lead as Keizhan Hester scored six of his team-high 24 points on a pair of 3-pointers from the left baseline.

Rolando Powell chipped in with four points to give the Blue Streaks a 13-6 lead heading into the second quarter.

Sebring found the range from outside as sophomore guard Connor Cook drilled back-to-back 3-pointers and Hester added another from the right wing to give the Blue Streaks a double-digit lead midway through the period.

DeSoto answered with a run of its own fueled by the play of Kari Williams who scored 10 of his game-high 29 points to pull the Bulldogs within 32-23 at the half.

Sebring went ice cold from the floor to open the third quarter and DeSoto's full-court press forced several Blue Streak turnovers which were converted into easy baskets as the Bulldogs pulled within 39-38 with 3:19 remaining in the period.

The game was tightly called by the officials and the fouls began to add up for both teams as starters went to the bench.

Sebring made a number of its free throws to take a 47-42 lead into the final eight minutes.

"We turned the ball over 15 times in the first half and 12 in the second half," Harris said. "We have to get that corrected if we want to become a good basketball team."

The Blue Streaks built a 12-point lead midway through the quarter as senior forward Gary Demarest scored six of his 12 points and Cook added six of his 12.

DeSoto refused to fold and made a late run as Williams hit a pair of 3-pointers and Tony Lee scored four of his 10 points to pull the Bulldogs within six points.

Sebring, which had four players foul out, answered as Hester nailed a clutch 3-pointer and Demarest powered his way to a basket in the paint to regain control of the contest.

DeSoto missed a number of free throws and Sebring ran time off the clock on each possession to seal the hard-fought victory.

"We lost four players to fouls and we still managed to win," said Harris. "That shows we have some depth and we need to keep developing that.

"We got the win but we have plenty of room for improvement."

Sebring is back in action on Friday night with a district home game against Lemon Bay.

"Lemon Bay has a good team and it's a district home game," said Harris. "We're going to work on getting better and we need to be ready to play Friday night."