Boys district basketball: PHU, St. Petersburg reach 8A-8 final

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Thu. February 6, 2014 | Andy Warrener

PALM HARBOR — Palm Harbor University proved to be the more powerful of the Hurricanes, beating visiting Bradenton Manatee 50-35 Wednesday in the Class 8A, District 8 semifinals.

Palm Harbor U. (14-7) will face St. Petersburg (17-1) at 7 p.m. Friday.

Senior guard Joe Pigozzo hit three 3-pointers, all from the same spot, in the first quarter as PHU jumped to a 23-7 lead.

Manatee (2-13) battled back, but Pigozzo hit another of his six 3-pointers in the second quarter to squash a 9-2 Manatee run that made it 28-16 at halftime.

“(Manatee) switched defenses, and we were hesitant with the way we attacked,” PHU coach Mark Carter said.

Though the adjustments paused PHU much of the second half, nothing could contain Pigozzo, who hit another 3. A hustle play by Joe Walker, diving for a ball heading out of bounds and sending it to DeAndre Williams for an easy bucket, iced the game in the final minutes.

Pigozzo broke the school record for career 3-pointers earlier in the season. Wednesday, he broke the single-season record and increased it.

“He had 71 coming in and he was 6-for-7 tonight, that puts him at 77; 73 was the old record,” Carter said. “He’s lights-out, he hit five (3-pointers) the last time we played (Manatee).”

In the other 8A-8 semifinal, St. Petersburg advanced by beating Sarasota Riverview 64-58.

Three Green Devils reached double figures, led by Ben Clare’s 16.

Riverview’s A.J. Caldwell led all scorers with 20 points, while teammate Nick Havener was close behind with 18.

“We were determined to come out and take control of the game,” said St. Petersburg coach Chris Blackwell. “We wanted to play uptempo.”

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