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Wed. February 8, 2012 | Bob Putnam | Email

SEMINOLE — St. Petersburg and Seminole, the top seeds in Class 7A, District 10, won their semifinals to advance to Friday’s championship game. But the outcomes were anything but a foregone conclusion.

Both stretched into overtime. The top-seeded Green Devils trailed most of regulation before taking control late in a 62-50 victory over No. 5 seed Northeast.

In the other semifinal, the No. 2 seed Warhawks jumped out to a big lead, survived a late rally and made enough plays down the stretch to beat No. 3 seed Clearwater 53-51.

“This is a tough district where the Nos. 1-6 teams in the district can beat anybody on any given night,” Warhawks coach Josh Walker said.

Take the first semifinal. St. Petersburg swept its regular-season games with Northeast, including a win in December by 17 points.

But the Green Devils trailed by as many as seven in the second half and were down 42-38 in the final three minutes before going on a 6-2 run to go ahead 44-42. The Vikings’ Auggie Sanchez hit a layup as time expired to tie the game. In overtime, St. Petersburg took over, outscoring Northeast 8-6.

Demontrae Adams led the Green Devils in scoring with 17 points. Patrick Mitchell had a team-high 22 for the Vikings.

“We went to a trap late in the game and that set them back a little bit,” St. Petersburg coach Chris Blackwell said. “We’re young and we took some ill-advised shots at times, but we were able to battle back and win.”

In the late semifinal, the host Warhawks went ahead 17-4 in the first quarter. The Tornadoes rallied, outscoring Seminole in each of the next three quarters to tie the game at 45 at the end of regulation. In overtime, Seminole’s Noah Weller hit a layup, drew a foul and knocked down a free throw to give the Warhawks a lead they would not relinquish in a 53-51 win.

Justin Hollis had a team-high 20 points for Seminole. Harvey Adams led Clearwater in scoring with 15.

“We’re just a grind it out team that doesn’t win a lot of games by big margins,” Walker said. “We keep believing and fighting and find a way to win.”

The semifinal loss marks the first time the Tornadoes will not make the postseason in 13 seasons.

“It’s embarrassing for us,” Clearwater coach Allen Carden said. “We can’t get down like that early in the game. We were able to come back and fight through adversity. Seminole was just a little bit better than us.”

5A-12: Bogie stuns top-seeded Gibbs

For the past two seasons, Boca Ciega was favored to make a run in the postseason but never got there. Each time, the Pirates lost a district semifinal in heartbreaking fashion, losing a 17-point second-half lead to Largo in 2010 and a 13-point second-half lead to Northeast last season.

So when Boca Ciega saw a seven-point lead dwindle against top seed Gibbs in Wednesday’s Class 5A, District 12 semifinals, the thoughts of another game slipping away had to be on the Pirates’ minds.

Only this time, Boca Ciega persevered.

The Pirates withstood a late rally to win 50-47.

“This goes down as a pretty big win for us,” Boca Ciega coach Randy Shuman said. “Especially after the way things have gone the past few seasons.”

Ahead 49-47, the Pirates clinched the game when Dallas Moore hit two free throws in the final 11 seconds. Moore also hit a 3-pointer at the end of the first half that gave Boca Ciega momentum the rest of the way.

It has been a tough road for the Pirates, who lost several key starters to graduation and lost starter D.J. White to a season-ending knee injury the first week of the season.

On Wednesday, Boca Ciega had to battle through more adversity with Michael Clark in foul trouble most of the game.

“Dallas hit a lot of big shots, but it was night for unsung heroes,” Shuman said. “We just wanted to make sure we stayed in the game and were able to win it at the end.”

5A-12: Quick pace suits Spartans

ST. PETERSBURG — From the start of Wednesday night’s Class 5A, District 12 semifinal, Bradenton Southeast pushed the pace. That turned out to be a bad idea against taller, faster Lakewood.

The Spartans used a suffocating defense and an up-tempo offense to blow by the Seminoles 76-67 and advance to Friday’s district final. The win ends Southeast’s season while Lakewood (16-5) is guaranteed a region quarterfinal next week.

“When we push the ball and stay in our lanes we do a good job of scoring,” Lakewood coach Anthony Lawrence said. “We tried to pick the pace up in this game.”

The Spartans had 10 players score, led by 19 points from Ernest Clayton and 11 each from Shabazz Waller and Jacobi Boykins. Lakewood led 23-15 after the first, then went on a 12-3 run to start the second and blow the game open.

Midway through the third quarter, the Spartans led by 24 and started emptying the bench. The final score was cut to single digits because Lakewood’s lax defense in the final minutes allowed uncontested layups.

“We’re big and athletic,” Lawrence said. “We do a pretty good job of rebounding the ball. But you’re also dealing with teenagers, so night to night you never know what you’re going to get.”

Staff writer Rodney Page contributed to this report.

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