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Boys jump to .500 with gritty win over Branford

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By Jenna McKenna

Cedar Key boys improved to 2-2 when they gutted out a white-knuckle 43-41 win over visiting Branford.

David Bishop and Joseph Bishop led Cedar Key scorers with 12 points each, and John Perry had 12 points for Branford.

The Sharks jumped out to a 12-7 lead in the first quarter, but let the Buccaneers chisel their way back in on the back of heavy defense and attentive shooting.

Cedar Key's defense always recovered timely, and odds and ends like a steal by Justin Speegle, which led to some fast break points for Joe Bishop, always kept them a little bit ahead, at least in the first half.

The Sharks chewed their way to a 10-point lead early in the third quarter, as Richie Rain and Joe Bishop both hit three-pointers off the dish from David Bishop. Micah Shelby scored on a mad drive to put Cedar Key up 31-25, but Branford had begun to press.

A possession flurry ensued, and while the Bucs didn't score right away, they disrupted the rhythm of the game.

Branford cranked it up in the fourth quarter, tying the game on a pair of free throws by Tim Clark, then getting the go-ahead moments later on Clark?s field goal. They held the lead for the next four minutes as Cedar Key brought back the press and tried to make things happen.

Sharks head coach Aaron Haldeman counseled composure, reminding them that "Four minutes is half a quarter."

The Sharks got the ball back and retied the score on Joe Bishop's one of two free throws. Speegle got the basket to retake the lead, and David Bishop made one last free throw at just the right time to hold on for the win.

"They're a more athletic team than we were expecting," said Branford coach Seth Stebbins. "They did a good job on us."

"I told my guys, we're going to win this game if we play to win," Haldeman said. "We can't just play not to lose."

Cedar Key's first win came last week against St. John Lutheran, a 64-37 victory over the Saints.