ST. PETERSBURG — St. Petersburg coach Chris Blackwell devised a sound blueprint for stifling Wiregrass Ranch’s pressure defense: pass quickly, pass intelligently and hit the open shot.
It worked a little too well as St. Petersburg (18-9) cruised to a 77-50 victory over Wiregrass (17-11) Thursday in the Class 7A region quarterfinals.
“Coach told us earlier in the week that they like to play a lot of 1-3-1 and trap, so that the diagonal passes were going to be there,” Devann Owens said. “After you break a 1-3-1, the corners are always open, so we had to keep passing the ball and we were going to find the open players.”
Owens consistently found the open man, especially in the first quarter when Dayon Griffin, Terrell Burney and Owens all hit consecutive open 3-pointers, finishing an 11-0 run to end the quarter up 21-12.
Five Green Devils finished in double figures: Owens (13), Demontrae Adams (11), Griffin (13), David Leaman (13) and Burney (12) off the bench.
“We took a lot of game-plan notes throughout the week, and I’ve got to give the credit to Coach because he really helped us prepare,” said Leaman, who added five rebounds and two blocks. “We took a look at their full-court presses and we figured out how to beat them.”
St. Petersburg’s defense didn’t disappoint, holding Wiregrass’ top scorer, Rico Kerney, to only five points in the second half. Kerney finished with a game-high 16 points.
“I think we got a pretty good scouting report and the guys were really focused this week,” Blackwell said. “I thought that we came out and dictated the game and executed, and I thought that was the difference in the game.”