GULFPORT — With his next basketball challenge locked down with a commitment to Louisiana Tech, St. Petersburg’s Dayon Griffin can focus on one thing — winning a state title. That should cause division opponents some fear considering his team’s dominant victory over host Boca Ciega.
“Two years ago, we were in the final four and last year we went to the regional finals,” Griffin said after a 66-36 victory where he finished with 17 points, including two huge dunks, eight steals, five assists and two blocks. “It wasn’t a good feeling getting that far (last season) and losing by four points. This is my senior year and I’m trying to get a ring. That’s it, that’s the only thing important to me.”
Griffin has the skills to carry a team, but he also has the smarts to utilize his gifted teammates along with a mandate from “my mom to stay humble and keep doing my job.” The Green Devils (3-0) possess speed, agility and height. The Pirates were pressured into 13 turnovers and 2-for-12 shooting in a game-deciding first quarter where they fell behind by 14. Boca Ciega shot 25 percent and made 26 turnovers.
Terrell Burney (game-high 18 points) had a pair of steals in the opening eight minutes while Ben Clare (four points, 10 rebounds) had four of his six blocked shots to lock down the win early.
“We’re blessed to have kids that are really athletic,” said St. Petersburg coach Chris Blackwell. “We’re long and big enough that we can extend our traps out far, and our post players like Ben are able to clean up any mistakes we might make.”
It is Griffin’s humble court leadership that helps drive the Green Devils to their peak.
“He’s not rattled, he’s in tune with what’s going on out there,” said Blackwell. “That trickles down to everyone, even in practice. Everyone makes their contributions but Dayon’s a leader, a floor general.”
Boca Ciega (2-3) crept to within nine at halftime but couldn’t get any closer, leaving coach Randy Shuman one victory shy of his 500th for his career.
Rae Dunbar led the Pirates with 10 points and 12 boards.