District basketball: Countryside finds long-range touch
SEMINOLE – Trailing 21-20 with five minutes left in the second quarter, Countryside got angry. After that, the Cougars never looked back as they outscored East Lake 53-37 over the final 21 minutes to pull out a 73-58 win in Wednesday night’s Class 8A, District 10 semifinal.
Led by senior center Tyler Witz’s 18 points, Countryside (19-6) advanced despite the tough efforts from a scrappy East Lake group.
The Eagles (16-10) came out hot with a 9-3 lead and a 19-16 advantage through one quarter.
Countryside made the proper adjustments, which included firing from beyond the arc. The Cougars connected on 13 3-pointers.
Freshman Christian Shaneyfelt and junior Nate Tettenborn each had 14 points. Tettenborn led Countryside with four 3s.
Another impact player from outside was junior point guard Carlos Williams, who finished with 11 points (including three 3s).
“Coming in we had the knowledge that we were going to win this game because you have to be positive,” Williams said. “But the hard work we put it in and the coaches we have behind us help us build upon that and help us think that we can compete with anyone.”
For East Lake, freshman Dionte Blanch flashed with a game-high 19 points while junior Breon Hillmon added 14.
In the other semifinal, St. Petersburg came away with a 58-39 victory over host Seminole. The Warhawks (13-8) tried to slow down the Green Devils early on as the game was just a 22-11 St. Pete lead at the half.
The first basket of the night came at the 4:15 mark of the opening quarter as Seminole’s Duncan Demuth made a jumper. It was 5-2 St. Pete after one. Demuth had 17 points for the Warhawks.
Having health back on their side made for a nice night for the Green Devils (15-10) as junior Serrel Smith scored 23 points and senior Darius Banks recorded 20.
St. Petersburg coach Chris Blackwell made note of his team being back to 100 percent after the game.
“Right now, we are healthy and we are playing really well,” he said.
With Banks back to full health after battling an ankle injury that kept him out much of the season, the Green Devils will now fight once again in Friday night’s district final.
It will be the third meeting between Countryside and St. Petersburg this season. The Cougars won both, one with Banks in the lineup and one without.
“It is about execution. It is going to be a tough game,” Blackwell said. “We just have to be consistent in what we are doing and take advantage of our opportunities and minimize turnovers. Limit them to one shot; we talk about that a lot.