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ST. PETERSBURG — For the first eight minutes of Thursday’s Class 7A region quarterfinal, it looked as if Wiregrass Ranch’s undersized shooters were going to be able to hang with St. Petersburg. The Bulls trailed by three and knocked down four 3-pointers.
But in the second quarter the Green Devils got down to business.
Utilizing its size advantage, St. Petersburg wore out Wiregrass Ranch in the paint and built a 20-point lead by halftime in an eventual 77-48 win.
“We wanted to set the tempo and we wanted to utilize our size,” St. Petersburg coach Chris Blackwell said. “At first we were kind of feeling each other out, trading baskets. But we finally went to our bread and butter down on the post.
“We got baskets and we got them in foul trouble. That made them use their bench and we didn’t think their bench was too deep.”
The first quarter was played at a breakneck pace and St. Petersburg led 24-21. Then the Green Devils (19-7) started getting easy baskets underneath. Ben Clare started the second quarter with two straight layups. Demontrae Adams hit two 3-pointers and in a 9-0 run to end the half, Dayon Griffin had a layup and dunk.
Griffin finished with 23 points, including 12 from the free-throw line. The Green Devils shot 30 free throws and made 19. Wiregrass Ranch (20-8) was outscored 21-4 in the second quarter.
“We adjusted to their press,” Griffin said. “They were playing a fast-paced game and we like to play fast. We realized we could go down low on them. They aren’t that tall so we were able to use that.”
The Green Devils did not lay off the gas in the third quarter. They scored the first six points and led 63-39 after three quarters. By midway through the fourth quarter, both teams emptied their benches.
“Foul trouble hurt us, rebounding hurt us,” Wiregrass Ranch coach Jeremy Calzone said. “They were doing a great job of crashing the boards and we didn’t respond to their energy. That’s what killed us, those second-chance points.”
Larrentz Manora led the Bulls with 23 points, including five 3-pointers. Clare had 13 points and Terrell Burney had 11 for St. Petersburg.
7A: Chiefs exact a little revenge
TAMPA — Same teams. Same game. Different result.
A year after Seminole closed the Class 7A region quarterfinal with a 28-8 run to stun Chamberlain, the Chiefs turn the tables Thursday night with a 38-37 victory.
It took all 32 minutes as Matt Cassity’s 3-point shot from the top of the key on the game’s final play bounced off the back of the rim.
Chamberlain (21-5) plays St. Petersburg on Tuesday.
Reggie Hart (16 points) reached the 2,000-point milestone for his career with a spinning 5-footer with three minutes remaining, giving the Chiefs a 36-31 lead.
But the Warhawks (18-6) scored the next six points, the final three on a trey by Marco Behori (15 points) with 1:20 left, to take their final lead at 37-36. But Seminole hurt itself with several turnovers, and Chamberlain scored the winner with 28.1 seconds left on a Reshawn Fredericks layup after a pass from Hart.
Chamberlain coach Christopher Snyder said his team watched a replay of the second half of last year’s 57-52 loss to Seminole at the Chiefs’ first practice this season.
“I wanted to move forward and didn’t want to concentrate on what happened in the past,” Snyder said. “That was our driving force all season — to make sure that we seize the moment now.”
Cassity led Seminole with 18 points.
“(Cassity) got a great look at the rim, he just couldn’t knock it down,” Seminole coach Joshua Walker said. “A couple of turnovers with two minutes to go probably cost us the ball game.”
6A: Another banner night for Largo's Hale
LARGO — Donavan Hale has steely nerves and unflappable confidence.
So it was understandable that Largo coach Phil Price turned to Hale in the most crucial moments of Thursday’s Class 6A region quarterfinal against Armwood.
Hale obliged as he continued his metamorphosis into one of the area’s premier clutch players. Hale made critical jump shots, got to the free-throw line and converted, and never passed on the chance to seize the game in the final moments.
The sophomore finished with 22 points, 13 in the fourth quarter and overtime, as he lifted the Packers to a 64-58 victory.
Largo (18-8) advances to host Sickles in Tuesday’s region semifinals.
“Donavan basically took over,” Price said. “I told him to. I said these are the moments when players can make a name for themselves, and he certainly delivered.”
Through three quarters, the Packers had control of the game, leading by as many as 10. But in the fourth quarter, the Hawks started using their perimeter game to rally. Armwood made five 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, including two by Jarred Anderson.
That helped the Hawks outscore Largo 16-9 in the fourth quarter and tie the score at 58 at the end of regulation.
Then Hale stepped up, especially in overtime.
It started from the tipoff as Hale got the ball, raced down the court and made an emphatic dunk that energized not only the crowd but his teammates. He wasn’t finished. Hale also made a short jumper off a turnover to help the Packers go ahead 62-58.
Armwood couldn’t get any shots to fall in overtime. Largo made one more field goal, grabbed nearly every important rebound and whittled down the clock to win.
“I knew I had to come through at the end,” Hale said. “After they made all those 3-pointers, I was like, ‘Whoa, what’s happening.’ I had to make something happen and that dunk got everyone pumped up and gave me more confidence in overtime.”
Reggie Moore was the other Packer to reach double figures in scoring with 14. Vontrey Hill had 17 points and Marcus Hill added 13 to lead the Hawks.
5A: Bogie can't complete rally
TAMPA — Every time Boca Ciega made a run Thursday night, Jesuit had an answer:
When things got close, he muscled his way inside for a basket. He made free throws to convert two three-point plays. He made a no-look pass to a teammate for an easy bucket.
And when the Pirates made one final run, pulling within six late in the third quarter, he grabbed a miss by a teammate and put it right back in, maybe the most decisive blow in Jesuit’s 63-50 victory in a Class 5A quarterfinal.
“We saw the way he was playing and we’re, well, we just have to keep giving it to him,” said point guard Devin Harris.
Johnson (26 points), Harris (21) and Jack Fleming (15) combined for 62 of Jesuit’s points to pace the No. 1-ranked Tigers, now 27-1.
They travel to Gibbs for next week’s region semifinals.
The Tigers led 32-17 early in the third quarter before Boca Ciega’s Dallas Moore started hitting shots from the parking lot, and his runner pulled the Pirates within 39-33. Boca Ciega (17-9) had the ball with a chance to get closer before turning it over to Fleming, who missed a shot that Johnson grabbed (one of his eight rebounds) and powered back up for two points before the third-quarter buzzer.
“We knew we had the edge inside,” said Johnson, alluding to the absence of Pirates big man Michael Clark, out with an ankle injury. “They had some big bodies, but they couldn’t move. So we decided to get it inside, get everyone in foul trouble and get to the bonus.”
Tremond Webb, Clark’s replacement, fouled out. Jesuit shot 27 free throws.
While the combination of Johnson’s bullying inside and Harris’ slashing to the hoop was too much for the Pirates; on the other end the Tigers’ defense was superb as well.
Moore made five 3-pointers, but had to take them from 25 feet so as not to have a hand in his face.
“That man was shooting way out there,” said Harris.
Not that he had a choice.
“Jesuit plays a long 2-3, 3-2; they extend so far out it’s hard to get a shot,” said Moore, who finished with 23.
5A: Gibbs heats up late
ST. PETERSBURG — Gibbs opened up a close game with a big fourth quarter and pulled away to defeat Lennard 64-52 in the 5A region quarterfinals.
For the first three quarters, the Gladiators and Longhorns played close. Gibbs led 19-11 in the second, but Lennard closed out the half on a 11-2 run to lead by one.
The Gibbs offense opened up for 17 points in the third quarter, including a 3-pointer at the buzzer by Daniel Davis that gave the Gladiators a four-point advantage.
The Gladiators led by 11 in the fourth quarter after a 10-3 run that forced the Longhorns to take outside shots and foul. Gibbs was strong from the line, with Barry Brown making the team’s last seven points from the stripe.
“We took too many jump shots in the first half,” Gibbs coach Larry Murphy said. “In the second half I told our guys to attack the basket.”
The strategy worked, as Gibbs doubled its first-half output and scored more points in the fourth quarter than it did in the first two. Brown led Gibbs with 17 points, while Darrel Fuller and Shaquille Speights each contributed 13. Davis was the other player to reach double figures, scoring 10. Gibbs also had a big advantage in free throws, making 20-of-25 attempts, while Lennard sank three baskets on just seven attempts.
Gibbs next faces Jesuit, which clipped the Gladiators by a point in the preseason.
3A: Chargers get taste of own medicine
SARASOTA — Shorecrest coach Daryl Blume knows what his team does well.
The Chargers push the ball, play pressure defense and shoot the 3. In Thursday’s Class 3A region quarterfinal, Cardinal Mooney did all of those things better en route to a 92-70 victory.
“They beat us at our own game,” Blume said. “We like to run and push the ball but they did it better than we did.”
The Cougars got out to an early lead in the first quarter but Johnny Koenig hit two treys and Jay Joyer worked the offensive glass to keep the Chargers within reach. Shorecrest turned the ball over eight times but only trailed 17-13 at the end of the quarter.
Mooney opened the game at the end second quarter, closing out the half with five straight points to lead 43-34.
“They played a stifling man-to-man defense and put a lot of pressure on the ball,” Blume said. “Our guards got riled up and just didn’t handle the pressure well.”
Mooney started the third quarter with an 11-2 run to take a 54-36 lead and never looked back as foul trouble forced Joyer to the bench. Tyee Johnson and Koenig fought to keep the Chargers close but couldn’t overcome the Cougar onslaught.
“It hurt when Jay got in foul trouble and we couldn’t keep him on the court,” Blume said. “We had runs but they were able to fight back.”
Joyer led Shorecrest with 15 points and 13 rebounds. Koenig scored 19 points, and Johnson added 15.
The Cougars had four players in double figures and forced 21 turnovers.
“We are going to keep this film and emulate what they do,” Blume said. “We had young players and can improve.”
Class 3A: For the second straight season, St. Petersburg Catholic will play in the region semifinals.
The Barons advanced by demolishing Bradenton Christian 82-41, a performance so dominating a running clock was used for most of the fourth quarter.
St. Petersburg Catholic will travel to Sarasota Cardinal Mooney in Tuesday’s region semifinals.
As usual, the Barons were led by their trio of scorers — Ryan Green, Michael Fridella and Kevin O’Donnell — who combined for 61 of the 82 points. O’Donnell (25 points) and Green (20) did most of the work inside while Fridella (16) provided the outside touch, hitting five 3-pointers.
St. Petersburg Catholic scored at least 17 points in each quarter and might have reached 100 were it not for a running clock.
Class 2A: Canterbury’s appearance in the playoffs was short-lived. The Crusaders were dominated by a taller, more athletic Naples First Baptist team, 66-29.
Hunter Coia had 14 points and was the only player from Canterbury to reach double figures.
Staff writers John C. Cotey and Bob Putnam, and correspondents Don Jensen, Nathan Cowan and Anthony Salveggi contributed to this report.