CLEARWATER — If there was any doubt which team was tops in Class 7A, District 9, it was erased in the first few minutes of Thursday night's final between top seed Clearwater and third seed Northeast. The Tornadoes scored the first 16 points and went on to defeat the Vikings 56-24.
Clearwater (19-2) will host the loser of Friday's Cape Coral-Charlotte game. Northeast (20-8) will travel to the winner of that game. This is the third straight district championship for Clearwater.
"I think we shot the ball pretty good early on and that opened things up," Clearwater coach Allen Williams said. "It gave us an opportunity to settle down a little bit."
Clearwater shot the ball more than pretty well to start the game. Olivia Jones drained a 3-pointer on her first shot. Carrie Lee followed with a layup and Jones hit another 3-pointer for an 8-0 lead. Adriana West hit a 3-pointer, Alleyah Williams also made a 3-point shot and Lee made another layup to make it 16-0.
Northeast's Tia Precious hit a layup to break Clearwater's scoring streak. The Tornadoes led 24-4 after the first quarter. It was 40-9 at halftime.
The lead stayed in that range until mid-way through the third. Williams made a 10-footer, and D'Mya Ferguson hit two layups and two free throws to make the score 54-13, which forced a running clock.
Clearwater only scored two points in the fourth quarter with most of its reserves in the game.
"If we keep playing together like this we can go far," Lee said. "We've had our differences in the past but we've gotten it together and started playing hard."
Lee scored 15 points to lead all scorers. Jones added 12 points and Williams had 10.
The loss snapped an eight-game win streak for Northeast. Clearwater has won six straight since an overtime loss to Countryside.
"I think they're ready," Williams said. "They've experienced this three times now. They lost in the (regional) finals last year and I know they want to do better."