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ST. PETERSBURG — The Suncoast Classic Tournament delivered a nail-biter Tuesday as Clearwater Central Catholic edged Mount Dora Bible School 51-48 in a semifinal.
The Marauders trailed by as many as 12 in the first period. Mount Dora held them in check with a defense that kept CCC from scoring until midway through the opening quarter.
Devante Mitchem, who led his team with 18 points, helped get the Marauders back in the game, scoring a layup and a 3-pointer that brought them within two. A 3-point basket by Charlie Stubbs extended Mount Dora’s lead to seven, but it held just a 28-25 halftime advantage.
A 3-pointer and short jumper by Daniel Higinbotham fueled the Marauders’ energy as they held a 34-32 edge in the third. After a 38-all tie, CCC’s Andrew Murphy sank a 3-point shot as time expired in the quarter, giving CCC a 45-40 lead.
Josh Ellis, who led his team with 20, brought Mount Dora within 50-48 with 36 seconds left. Though Raymond Bernard missed a three 3 that would have tied the game with less than 15 seconds left, Mount Dora wasn’t out of the game yet. Two missed free throws by the Marauders gave the Bulldogs a chance with 1.4 seconds left. But the inbound pass was blocked by Mitchem, sealing the victory.
In the earlier semifinal, St. John Neumann defeated Carrollwood Day School 62-52.
The teams played close in the first half, with the Patriots holding a 24-23 halftime lead. But the Celtics soon took over, thanks in large part to Frank Bennett, who led all scorers with 24.
As the Patriots resorted to fouling down the stretch, Josh Hardy and Mike Corso kept St. John Neumann ahead with clutch free throws.