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Birmingham Goes After Fletcher Stays

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Back in September, Stanley Fletcher of Birmingham High transferred to Grant. He attended school for four days. Then he changed his mind.

Do you think he’s happy?

“Yeah, my season would have been a lot shorter,” Fletcher said Friday night after his 29-point performance helped Birmingham to a 76-65 victory over San Pedro in a City Section Division 3-A boys’ basketball semifinal game at Cal State Los Angeles.

“He was awesome,” Birmingham Coach Al Bennett said of the 6-foot-3 Fletcher, who scored 15 points in the third quarter when the Braves opened a 10-point lead.

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Fletcher’s senior season will come to an end next Saturday in the most classic of settings--a game against San Fernando Valley rival Sylmar for the 3-A title.

“We’re going to the big show,” Birmingham’s Emmanuel Evans shouted.

The Braves (18-9) had some nervous moments, particularly when Evans was forced to the bench after picking up his fourth foul with 5:49 left in the third quarter. Birmingham had taken a 41-29 lead behind a 2-3 zone defense that frustrated three-point bomber Allen Kordich of San Pedro.

But with Evans unavailable, San Pedro (8-19) made its move. Kordich hit two three-pointers during an 8-0 run to help the Pirates close to 41-37. Sensing his team needed offensive help immediately, Fletcher delivered. He scored 10 of the Braves’ next 11 points.

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“I was trying to do anything we could to win,” Fletcher said. “I knew I had to start scoring a little bit.”

When Evans returned with 6:55 left, Birmingham was on top, 52-47. Bennett gambled in putting him back in the game so early.

“I threw the dice,” Bennett said. “There was nothing I could do. I took a chance.”

Evans and Jerome Riley, who had 12 points, provided stability in the fourth quarter during San Pedro’s frantic attempt to come back.

Point guard Fahim Hassankhail was also a critical figure. He scored just two points, but his ball handling against the Pirates’ full-court press gave the opportunity for Evans and Fletcher to score.

Kordich scored 27 points for San Pedro.

For the Braves to reach the 3-A championship game is another tribute for Bennett, a veteran coach who has never compromised his discipline.


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