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ST. PETERSBURG — If St. Petersburg plays the way it did Friday night against Clearwater in the Class 7A-10 district final, expect the Green Devils to stick around a while in the postseason.
Using a menacing defense and a potent offense, St. Petersburg jumped on the Tornadoes early and never gave up the lead in a 57-46 win.
Jordan Berenbaum led the way for the Green Devils with 18 points, 12 in the first half. Lazaysha Baskin, back this week after being academically ineligible, added 11 points. And Michael Everhart and Simone Wilson each scored 10.
“Defensively I thought we did a good job,” St. Petersburg coach Tamika Coley said. “We held them to one shot and done on offense a lot, and I think our offense is playing well enough that we can score.”
The tone was set early when Berenbaum swished a short jumper to start the game. Then she hit another. And another. St. Petersburg led 10-6 after the first quarter and put together an even better second quarter.
The Green Devils started the quarter on a 9-3 run that included a 3-pointer from Wilson and three straight layups from Berenbaum. An Alex Alford layup late in the quarter cut the lead to seven, but a Wilson heave from just over half court at the buzzer went in, making it 28-18 at the half.
Clearwater (23-4) couldn’t get any closer in the third quarter, but it did make a run midway through the fourth. An Aja Jenkins layup and two straight 3s from Alford cut the lead to 46-41 with under four minutes left.
But St. Petersburg (18-10) broke the Tornadoes’ press and got an Angel Brown layup. After a defensive stop, Everhart drained a 3 from the right corner to put the lead back to 10 and take momentum away from Clearwater.
“Once you see one go in your confidence just goes up,” Berenbaum said. “It could be a layup or it could be a jumper. Once you see one go in you start feeling better and better.”
5A-12: Lakewood pulls it together late
ST. PETERSBURG — In a tight game that Lakewood coach Necole Tunsil called a “dog fight,” Lakewood rallied for a 41-34 victory in the Class 5A district final.
The game certainly played out that way, with both teams finding it difficult to move the ball inside, and neither shooting well from the perimeter. The game also was marked by sloppiness, including numerous travels and turnovers.
After trailing almost the entire game, the Spartans pulled even at 27 on Tianah Alvarado’s 3-pointer with less than six minutes remaining. Alexis Ungro then sank two free throws to give the Spartans the lead for good.
Boca Ciega led by as many as nine points in the first half. Lakewood got a gift at the close of the second quarter when Alvarado rebounded a long Bogie shot and was fouled on the Pirates’ end with just over a second on the clock. She sank both free throws to pull the Spartans within 20-17. The Pirates extended their advantage to 27-21 after three quarters.
Despite a night in which she struggled with her outside shot, Alvarado led all scorers with 14 points. She also hit both of the game’s 3-pointers, the second coming with a minute and a half left to put Lakewood up by six.
Tunsil noted that Spartans like Ungro and freshman Siyana Allen stepped up with tough defense and much-needed baskets.
“This game builds character for our team,” said Tunsil. “This says we can win when Tianah is off.”
Class 3A-9: Calvary Christian (19-3) finished off its run through the district with a convincing 50-10 win over Indian Rocks Christian. Savannah Plentovich led Calvary with 17 points. Her sister, Carley, added 12.
“It was a very good defensive game for us,” Warriors coach Brooke Sibert said. “I think we’re ready for the regionals. We’ve had some good practices and looked good in the districts.”
Class 2A-9: Kelsey Hill scored 12 for Canterbury, but it wasn’t enough to get past top seed Sarasota Christian, which won 35-20.
Correspondent Anthony Salveggi contributed to this report.