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TAMPA — The Jesuit student body observed costume night with creative zeal Friday. The get-ups included Elvis (of the super-sized era), a Wheaties box, Scooby Doo, even one of the Teletubbies.
By evening’s end, Tampa Catholic’s fans probably wished they had arrived at the Al Lopez Sports Complex in disguise as well.
While the Crusaders (16-8) struggled to make a jump shot, Jesuit made history, forcing what is believed to be the first running clock in this rivalry’s history in a 64-28 rout before a sold-out audience of nearly 1,300.
“We found our team tonight,” said Tigers coach Neal Goldman, whose club (23-1) escaped TC with a one-point win in the rivals’ first meeting only three weeks ago.
“This is the way I know we can play. We were cooking on all cylinders. The swarming defense, great team passing — just relentless. That’s what we’re trying to be.”
Maximizing its length and lanky bodies with a 2-3 zone, Jesuit forced TC into a 1-for-22 effort from 3-point range and watched the guests commit 17 turnovers.
The Crusaders didn’t hit an outside shot in the first half, which ended with a 35-11 Tigers lead. Sam Harris’ right-side jumper with 6:30 to play in the third ended the outside cold streak.
Less than five minutes later, though, Jesuit backup Grant Townsend’s lay-in made it 53-17 to prompt the running clock, engaged when a team takes a 35-point lead.
“We couldn’t put the ball in the ocean,” said Crusaders coach Don Dziagwa, whose team finished 10-for-41 from the floor. “How do you explain something like that? I don’t know. I’ve been in this business a long time and I still don’t know how to explain it.”
Ten of Jesuit’s 11 players scored. Junior Travis Johnson led the way with 18 points, while Nick Medich had 10. Chivarsky Corbett and Thomas Mokris — who had TC’s only trey — each had seven for the visitors.
Joey Knight can be reached at email@example.com