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GULFPORT — Boca Ciega coach Michael Hall had a feeling his team was close to putting together a complete game. Some nights the offense was lacking, some nights it was the defense.
Wednesday night against St. Petersburg, everything was clicking. The Pirates jumped on the Green Devils early and never looked back in a 56-36 win. Destiny Brown led Boca Ciega with 20 points, including four 3-pointers. Olivia Hester chipped in 15 and Zoi Thompson had nine.
“The one thing we’ve been working on all year is consistency in our offense,” Hall said. “Our offense played better than it has all year. It’s been coming because we had six good Christmas games. We went 3-3 in those games, but you could tell we were getting better and better.”
The Pirates (11-6) stifled St. Petersburg with defense in the first quarter. Boca Ciega jumped out to a 12-0 lead, highlighted by a last-second halfcourt 3-pointer by Brown.
“It’s funny, we were shooting those in practice (Tuesday) and I was hitting all of them,” Brown said. “Then I make one in the game.”
St. Petersburg finally scored with 6:36 remaining in the second quarter. But Boca Ciega’s motion offense led to some easy layups and the Pirates were up 22-2 midway through the second and led 25-13 at the half.
The Green Devils (8-5) would not go away. Down by 17 in the third quarter, they went on an 8-0 run to cut the lead to 37-28. But the Pirates survived the rally thanks to the scoring of Hester and Brown.
Boca Ciega’s defense held St. Petersburg to just three fourth-quarter points as it blew open the lead once again.
“We’re starting to trust each other,” Hall said. “Sometimes we get frazzled, so I called some timeouts just to calm them down. I just told them to be patient.
“I treated the whole game like it was a one-point game because I knew at any time (St. Petersburg) could just pour it on.”
Deja Swinton led the Green Devils with 11 points. Danielle Daniels and Jordan Berenbaum each had eight.