ST. PETERSBURG — Historically, when mid February rolls around, St. Petersburg has a knack for playing some of its best basketball.
The Green Devils have made the region tournament 11 of the past 12 years, went to the state tournament in 2012 and the region final last year.
They are off to another hot start after a 63-38 win over visiting Newsome on Thursday night in a Class 8A region quarterfinal.
“This is St. Pete time,” Green Devils coach Chris Blackwell said. “St. Pete plays good basketball at this time of year. That’s our history.”
The Green Devils (21-3) scored the game’s first 13 points, aided by two layups from Ben Clare and 3-pointers from Darius Banks and Terrell Burney.
Colton Stafford broke the scoreless streak for Newsome (17-10), but St. Petersburg went on an 8-2 run to end the quarter and take a 21-4 lead.
The Green Devils slowed down a little in the second quarter but still eased to a 37-13 halftime lead.
“We wanted to jump on them right away,” Blackwell said. “We wanted to send a little message.”
That message was still being sent early in the third quarter. The Green Devils went on a 10-0 run behind five points from Burney, another Clare layup and a 3-pointer by Dayon Griffin.
When the lead got to 50-15 midway through the third quarter, the rest of the game was played with a running clock.
Clare led St. Petersburg with 15 points. Burney had 14 and Griffin scored 13. Fisher Curry scored eight for Newsome, all on free throws.
Blackwell said the game plan was to play fast early and guard Newsome’s Hayden Harkins tightly. He scored three points.
“They play control basketball and we wanted them to play up tempo,” Blackwell said. “We wanted to make them do things they weren’t used to doing. And the biggest thing was to take (Harkins) out of the equation.”