BRADEN RIVER — Sophomore Eric Foster is one of a number of players on the Braden River High basketball team who could have been a part of the Pirates starting lineup.
But in recent weeks, Foster has had a knack for coming in off the bench and providing Braden River with an added boost of confidence. And, last week proved to be no different.
Foster scored 12 points off the bench, including a pivotal layup with 16 seconds remaining in the game, helping lead the host Pirates to a key Class 4A-District 10 win with a 52-49 victory over Palmetto Jan. 12.
With the win, Braden River improves to 9-5 overall and 4-1 in the district, while Palmetto fell to 9-2 and 3-1.
“Our bench played extremely well,” Braden River coach Matt Nesser said. “Eric Foster could be starting easily, but he gives us energy off the bench. So we’re just trying not to break that, because he’s had multiple games now in a row where he’s played well.
“A lot of guys did a lot of good things tonight,” he added. “It’s a huge win for us.”
But Foster wasn’t the only player to come in off the bench and spark the Pirates. Alex Hoff (10 points), Neil Walker (three points) and Javar Baity each played quality minutes for Braden River off the bench.
Palmetto jumped out to an early 5-0 lead, before Braden River freshman Trevon Young put the Pirates on the scoreboard with a pair of buckets. Walker drilled a 3-pointer at the start of the second quarter to tie the game at 13. But the Tigers scored 10 points in the second quarter to take a 23-20 advantage into the locker room.
The two teams remained even throughout much of the third quarter, but the Pirates saw their 34-31 lead quickly vanish as the Tigers went on an 8-0 run to open the fourth quarter.
At that point, the Pirates tried to get the ball inside to Young and Casey Bobelis. Bobelis scored nine of his 13 points in the fourth quarter, including a pair of 3-pointers. Bobelis also sank the Pirates lone free throw of the night, breaking a 49-49 tie with 43 seconds to play in regulation.
“It’s good to see some of the guys came in and really showed some heart,” Nesser said. “They could’ve folded — some of these seniors who were maybe coming off the bench. But they certainly showed some heart.
“I think at the beginning of the year there were a lot of things that happened to the team where we had a lack of chemistry going,” he added. “Hopefully, we can build on this win.”
Braden River returns to district action at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow night, when the Pirates play host to Seminole Osceola.
Contact Jen Blanco at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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