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ST. PETERSBURG — For the past two months, Shorecrest has been at the top of the Class 3A, District 9 standings thanks to its ability to pull out close games.
But there some wild upsets this past week. The Chargers were victim to one of them, losing to St. Petersburg Catholic. That gave Shorecrest its first district loss and tightened its lead, so much that Monday’s game against Indian Rocks Christian was for first place in 3A-9.
In a game where the lead changed six times in the second half, the Chargers were able to hold in the end to win 61-57. Shorecrest (17-3, 9-1) has a two-game cushion in the standings and is assured of at least a tie for the district’s No. 1 seed.
Still, there was more than just first place on the line for the Chargers. They were seeking redemption.
“We really needed to bounce back after that loss to St. Petersburg Catholic,” Shorecrest coach Daryl Blume said. “We were able to hang in there against IRC and managed to win. We’ve been doing that all year, but we still haven’t put a full game together.”
In the first half, the Chargers dictated the tempo, running down the floor and making 3-pointers to go ahead 42-40. The Golden Eagles (9-9, 6-3) kept up but knew it was going to be tough to maintain that pace.
So in the second half IRC slowed things down, holding onto the ball and making as many passes as possible before taking a shot. Neither team reached double digits in scoring in the third quarter.
The pace helped the Golden Eagles lead 49-47 going into the fourth quarter.
“We ran with them in the first half,” IRC coach Joe Frost said. “But that probably wasn’t going to work for us the whole game. So we decided to slow it down and get the ball inside. Unfortunately, we missed some close ones down the stretch that we should be hitting.”
Meanwhile, Shorecrest was making its shots in the end. The Chargers outscored the Golden Eagles 14-8 in the fourth quarter with Tyee Johnson and Marcus Blake each hitting clutch field goals in the final two minutes. The game wasn’t decided until the final second when Blake rebounded a shot and hit two free throws.
Johnny Koenig led Shorecrest with 13 points. Ryan Ferguson had a team-high 25 for IRC.