Time to shine
FORT WHITE — It went from a close game to a blowout real quick Monday night.
And Fort White’s seniors couldn’t have been any happier.
The Indians went from up nine at the end of the third quarter to as many as 28 in the fourth, cruising to a 72-44 win over Branford on Senior Night. Senior Mahari Peoples led Fort White with 15 points, and junior DJ Jackson recorded a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Senior Robert Myers also scored 12 points, all coming from beyond the arc.
Although it wasn’t the Indians’ last home game — they play Suwannee today — they treated it as such.
And head coach Isaiah Phillips had one message to his seniors.
“I told them, ‘You can’t get it back once it’s gone,’ ” Phillips said. “I told them, ‘Everything you haven’t done or you wish you had done, tonight and tomorrow is the only night you can do it because when we come for districts next week, I’m not worried about who is a senior or not, so this is your minutes to shine, these two games right here.’ ”
Peoples and Myers both got the message, especially in the fourth quarter. Peoples had five of his 15 points in the fourth, while Myers hit two of his four 3-pointers in the quarter — a quarter that began with a 19-4 run for the Indians after they held 44-35 after three.
“We just came out slow and in the second half we just turned it up a notch,” Peoples said. “When we went into the locker room I told them that we’ve got to win tonight.”
Slow is a perfect way to describe the second quarter.
Each team only had four points through the first five minutes of the quarter as Branford held a 22-18 lead before Peoples woke up his team. The senior had a steal and a fast break layup to put the Indians in front 23-22 followed by an offensive rebound and put-back to help engineer an 11-3 run to close the half for a 29-25 lead at the break.
Peoples was one of the few Indians ready to go from the start, scoring 10 of his 15 points in the first half.
“I told him, ‘This is what I need from you all season,’ ” Phillips said. “DJ has been carrying the load, so somebody else needs to step up and help take the load off of him. I said if you just flow with him and be ready when DJ penetrates and ready to catch the ball, we’ll score the basketball.”
Jackson did a fair share of putting the ball in the basket in the second half, scoring 12 of his 14 in the final 16 minutes. He had a 3-pointer in the third that pushed the lead to nine, and although Branford crept back to within three points, Jackson would later push it to 10 with a steal and layup for a 43-33 lead late in the quarter.
The Buccaneers never got closer the rest of the way. Cody O’Connor and Caleb Rossin each had 12 points for Branford.
“I think we had a little more intensity tonight,” Phillips said. “Maybe with it being Senior Night, everybody was a little looser. Hopefully we can carry it over to (tonight) against Suwannee.”