ST. PETERSBURG — Perhaps it was because Friday’s upcoming contest against undefeated Gibbs crept into the minds of the Boca Ciega players more than they let on.
Perhaps it was because they are increasingly becoming the target for the opponents.
Whatever the case, Boca Ciega’s 74-59 win Tuesday night hardly resembled their previous victories in which they jumped out to a substantial lead and never looked back.
“Hopefully, we were saving it for Friday,” said Pirates senior guard Kenny “Speedy” Smith, who had a game-high 23 points and nine assists.
The Pirates (5-0) found themselves in an 11-11 tie when, after a Boca Ciega timeout, they went on an 11-point run and seemed on their way to another typical rout. The Green Devils (3-4) battled back with a run of their own, outscoring the Pirates 13-3 over the end of the first quarter and beginning of the second behind Terrence Melville’s eight points to close the deficit to 25-24.
“They were talking smack a little bit like this was football so we had to step things up,” said Pirates sophomore guard D.J. White, who had 19 points.
After the teams traded baskets over the middle part of the second quarter, the Pirates put the game away with a 14-0 run over the end of the first half and the beginning of the second half to turn the score from 32-30 to 46-30.
The closest the Green Devils would get the rest of the game was 11 points.
“St. Pete played well,” Boca Ciega coach Randy Shuman said. “This is a great basketball league in Pinellas County and we’re going to have games like that all season. We just have to continue playing to our ability.”
Darion Bentley had 19 points to lead the Green Devils.