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GULFPORT — Once Boca Ciega found its inside game in the second half Tuesday night, it pulled away from Osceola 76-55.
Pirates sophomore Michael Clark scored 20 of his 26 in the second half, all of them layups or dunks. One of those layups broke a 41-all tie and gave Boca Ciega the lead for good as the third period ended.
Dallas Moore, who led all scorers with 38 points, extended the advantage to five when he hit a 3-pointer to open the final quarter. Three of his five 3-pointers came in the third and fourth quarters.
It was a different story in the first half as the Warriors went on a 12-2 tear to go up 17-10 early in the second quarter. But despite missing numerous layups and outside shots, the Pirates used a 21-12 run to take back the lead. Moore scored 13 of those points, and Boca Ciega led at halftime 31-29.
The Pirates looked like a different team in the second half and started feeding the ball to their big center, Clark.
“Finally, we put the ball where we needed to put it,” Pirates coach Randy Shuman said.
A streak of seven unanswered points in the fourth gave Boca Ciega a 14-point lead. Osceola’s Freeman Hinson worked hard to keep his team in the game, scoring 16 of his team’s 26 second-half points, including the Warriors’ final seven. Hinson finished with 23 points.
Teammate Jake Ward had 18 points in the loss, most of them on outside shooting.
Shuman said he reminded his players to get the ball inside, which spurred the second-half turnaround. He attributed the first-half struggles to youth and inexperience.
“They’re so focused on catching and dribbling, they can’t see the whole court,” Shuman said. “We’re a work in progress.”