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IRC Holiday Tournament: Osceola stumbles but Tarpon shows fight to reach boys final

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Thu. December 30, 2010 | Basil Spyridakos

LARGO — Lake Mary Prep struggled in the first half, but coasted to a 75-44 victory over Osceola advancing to the Indian Rocks Christian Holiday Tournament final.

The Griffins created turnovers by pressing in the halfcourt and utilizing their speed. The Seminoles couldn’t find the open man downcourt and Lake Mary benefitted from their mistakes.

“I thought we were much more disciplined in the second half,” said Lake Mary coach Matt Benefiel. “We didn’t play very well in the first half, settling for 3-pointers and not running the offense.”

Lake Mary will take on Tarpon Springs, which defeated Dixie Hollins 71-64.

Lake Mary (9-1) outscored Osceola 46-20 in the second half. Niko Smith led the charge with 14 points. The Griffins went on a 12-0 run in the middle of the third quarter and never looked back.

Osceola (8-5) will play in the third-place game against Dixie Hollins.

In the other semifinal, Tarpon Springs coach James Margarella was frustrated with his squad after blowing a 16-point first-quarter lead.

Dixie Hollins rallied in the second quarter, going on a 17-2 run capped by a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to end the half tied at 25.

“I really just stopped coaching,” Margarella said. “I actually stepped out of the locker room and just let them handle it. I said, ‘You guys are either going to step up or you’re not. I can’t force you to do it.’ ”

Tarpon (9-4) answered Margarella’s call by capitalizing on turnovers and making every shot count. C.J. Bargman led the way with a team-high 15 points, 12 of which came in the second half.

“We should’ve had the game earlier,” said Bargman. “We let them come back, but then we stuck together like a brotherhood and got the win.”

Dixie Hollins’ Rashad Samuels kept the contest close, hitting five 3-pointers and tying the team lead with 17 points.

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