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Deshaun Brown scores 36 in Fort Hill's win over Southern

Feb. 23—OAKLAND — Deshaun Brown took over with 16 points in the fourth quarter, finishing with a career-high 36 in No. 3 Fort Hill's 63-51 win over No. 4 Southern on Thursday.

Brown surpassed his career-high of 29 points in last year's region semifinals against Allegany.

Based on the stats available to the Times-News, Brown is the sixth player in the area to score at least 30 points this season.

"Deshaun had a positive attitude the entire game," Fort Hill head coach Thad Burner said. "He filled up the stats, he led us in rebounds, led in us steals. He's a senior, we expect that."

Brown's 36 is the third-most scored in a game this season behind Union's Braylon Ward with 37 against Highland and Will Patterson of Mountain Ridge with 39 vs. Bishop Walsh.

He also recorded five steals and two assists.

It came when the Sentinels (17-4, 7-1 WestMAC) needed it most.

Tied at 36 heading into the fourth quarter, Fort Hill took a 46-45 lead with 4:15 remaining on a reverse layup by Gavin Carney off a Jabril Daniels' assist.

"We did a great job of keeping our composure," Burner said. "We weren't getting shots early, but we were able to just push through that."

Carney finished with 10 points.

Brown scored three consecutive baskets for the Sentinels, all in the paint and all within a 60-second timeframe.

It extended Fort Hill's lead to 53-45 with 2:35 left. Daniels recorded a steal and a layup to extend the lead to 55-45 and end a nine-point unanswered run.

"Down the stretch, we turned it over too much," Southern head coach Hunter Broadwater said. "We started to get rushed at that point and that's when we turned it over."

Jared Haskiell cut the deficit to single digits on an and-one layup for the Rams (14-8, 3-5 WestMAC).

Haskiell led Southern with 18 points, adding three steals and an assist.

"I thought he played really well," Broadwater said. "One of his best defensive games of the year for us."

Brown responded by drawing a foul and hit both free throws to push the lead back to double digits, which the Sentinels maintained the rest of the game.

Turnovers cost Southern throughout. The Rams finished with 24 with at least four in every quarter.

"They were turnovers we normally don't make," Broadwater said. "I don't know what went into it, but we turned it over way too much tonight."

Fort Hill also struggled with turnovers, committing 20, however, the Sentinels only had one in the fourth quarter compared to the Rams' five.

While Fort Hill pulled away late, it was anyone's game for the first three quarters.

The Sentinels led 26-25 at halftime, but the teams went back-and-forth in the third quarter.

The quarter featured four lead changes and a pair of ties.

Both teams committed eight turnovers in the quarter, but each team was only able to score two points off of those.

"The guys just get rushed," Burner said. "That was more of a first quarter type thing, at least the first 14 minutes or so. I think it's maybe some nerves, little bit of pressure. And Southern was defending really hard too."

After Steven Spencer hit a pair of free throws to give Fort Hill a 36-34 lead with 25 seconds remaining, Braige Hardesty sent a nutmeg pass to Ryan Bird for an and-one layup that tied the game at 36.

Southern led for most of the second quarter. After a travel by the Sentinels, Joel Campbell gave the Rams a 13-12 lead on a putback.

"I thought we played them a lot better than we have in the past," Broadwater said.

Southern held the lead, but Fort Hill kept it within two possessions for most of the quarter.

Trailing 23-16 with three minutes left in the half, the Sentinels scored eight unanswered points and took a 24-23 lead with 57 seconds remaining.

Liam Hamilton recorded a steal and a block on back-to-back defensive possessions, then assisted Brown on a 3-pointer to make it a one-point game.

Hamilton and Spencer were key defensively for the Sentinels. They combined for five steals, three coming from Spencer and each had at least three assists.

"They defended at a high level in the second half," Burner said. "We got caught on a couple switches, but us being able to put pressure on the 3-point line definitely helped us."

On the next possession, Brown set up Hamilton for a layup that gave Fort Hill the lead.

After Gavin Carney scored a layup with less than 10 seconds remaining, a blocking foul at the buzzer sent Haskiell to the line.

He made 2 of 3 free throws to cut the Rams' halftime deficit to 26-25.

The first quarter was similar to the third with four lead changes.

"It's a game, the kids are competing and you're pressing a little bit," Burner said. "You're turning it over and it's hard and the other team turns it over and it's hard. But I think you saw two good teams slugging it out, definitely in the second half."

It also mirrored the second quarter as Southern led most of it but Fort Hill took the lead late.

Trailing 11-10, Spencer had a pass thrown right to him for an easy steal.

After missing a layup, Brown got his own offensive rebound and a put back to put the Sentinels up 12-11 after one quarter.

Noah Wilt finished with 11 points while Isaiah Keller added 10 and seven assists for Southern.

With the win, Fort Hill clinches back-to-back WestMAC conference titles and the number one seed in the West Region I playoffs.

"We're excited, we've set goals and we're still hoping to meet some of those," Burner said. "But the kids are excited, they work really hard."

The Sentinels earn a first-round bye before hosting the winner of No. 4 seed Mountain Ridge and No. 5 Northern in the region semifinals.

Southern will be the no. 3 seed and will host No. 6 Hancock in the region quarterfinals.

Jordan Kendall is a Sports Writer for the Cumberland Times-News. Email him with scores and story suggestions at jkendall@times-news.com.