SEBRING – In an action-packed game that was close to the end, Auburndale hung on for a 78-73 win over Sebring on Thursday night. The loss dropped Sebring to 9-2 on the season.
“We played one quarter of basketball,” said Sebring Head Coach Princeton Harris. “We did not play a full game and Auburndale played the whole game. We were up by 18 points and then lost by 5 and that is unacceptable. We stopped doing what made us get to where we were and that was defense. Defense creates our offense and when we stopped playing defense this is what happens.”
Sebring came out strong and jumped to a substantial lead in the first period. Norris Taylor had a putback and Alvin Tumblin was sent to the line where he made one of two free throws.
Sebring’s Eric Brown had a pair of layups and Taylor and Jacob Pasley added baskets to give the Blue Streaks an 11-2 lead with 1:45 left in the first quarter.
Auburndale narrowed its deficit when Andre Blake made a 3-pointer. Tumblin was sent to the line for the Blue Streaks where he went two-for-two. Blake made another 3-pointer for the Bloodhounds to make it 13-8.
Tumblin made a layup and Shamar Hawthorne sank a deep 3-pointer to give the Blue Streaks an 18-8 lead at the end of the first period.
Sebring started the second period with Jehovany Garcia sinking a pair of 3-pointers and Taylor had a layup to give the Blue Streaks a commanding 26-8 lead with 5:20 left in the first half.
The Bloodhounds went on a run to trim their deficit to 28-18. Brown made an easy layup and Tumblin went two-for-two at the line. The Bloodhounds made a pair of baskets and a couple of free throws to trail 34-27 at the half.
“I think we could have played a lot better,” said Sebring’s Eric Brown. “We opened up pretty well but then we let up. We need to execute, make free throws and play the whole game. I think we can do better. My personal goal is to always get better and improve each game. We have district games next week and we are going to work hard and focus to get ready.”
Auburndale cut the deficit in the third period as Isaiah Turner made a 3-pointer, but Sebring’s Brown made another layup and Garcia sank a 3-pointer for the Blue Streaks.
The Bloodhounds went on a 8-point run that brought the score to 50-46 at the end of the third quarter with Sebring still on top.
Auburndale came out strong in the fourth period with Turner making a shot off the glass. The Blue Streaks widened the gap with Tumblin going two-for-two at the line and Brown making a layup.
Auburndale answered with a pair of layups to pull within 54-52. Tumblin scored and Taylor scored. Taylor finished with 20 points and Brown contributed a total of 18.
Auburndale’s Turner made a 3-pointer and Beymer sank a basket off the glass to bring the Bloodhounds within 58-57.
Garcia made another 3-pointer for the Blue Streaks, his fourth of the night, and Taylor went two-for-two at the line.
Auburndale tied the game at 63 and then claimed a 66-63 lead. Tumblin brought the Blue Streaks within a point with a shot off the glass bringing the score to 66-65. Tumblin had 17 points.
The Bloodhounds extended their lead with Beymer putting up five additional points. Taylor sank a 3-pointer and added a free throw but the Blue Streaks trailed the Bloodhounds 73-69.
Auburndale netted 5 points from the line and Taylor made a pair of layups but it was not enough as the Bloodhounds held on for the victory.
“I think we lost defensively tonight,” said coach Harris. “We play Haines City and Lake Wales next week. Lake Wales is a district game so we are going to get after it. We are going to work on defense. That is our main focus. If we work on the defense than everything else falls into place and if we do that we will be fine. We have been doing well offensively but we have to sit down and guard people. We are capable of doing it but we just have to do it. We had good competition in Auburndale and that’s what we want to continue facing.”
The Sebring Blue Streaks are back in action on Tuesday when they host the Haines City Hornets at 8 p.m. The Blue Streaks will host their Class 6A-District 10 foes, the Lake Wales Highlanders on Friday at 8 p.m.