CLEARWATER — Clearwater captured its 35th district championship in school history with a 54-43 victory over East Lake, and the Tornadoes didn't even have to play a full 32-minute game.
After watching a 23-10 first-quarter lead dwindle to 45-41 in the fourth quarter, Clearwater coach Allen Carden pulled the plug on his team and told his players to run out some clock. For 2:38 East Lake also stood still on the court.
"We had a four-point lead, so why should we play?" Carden said. "We weren't scoring very well and we weren't shooting very well. (East Lake) had all the momentum."
Despite building a rally and cutting the deficit, East Lake allowed Clearwater to run all that time off the clock. Finally, with three minutes remaining, the Eagles ended the stall by challenging the Tornadoes offense, but from that point on it was all Clearwater. The Tornadoes outscored the Eagles 9-2 after the stall.
"You just have to adjust anyway you can," Carden said. "At this point it doesn't matter how good or bad you play. It only matters if you win. During the season it's the opposite."
The Tornadoes were led by their defense. The team had 14 steals with Branden Leston grabbing four.
Okaro White had 15 points for the Tornadoes (22-5). Jeremy Mogged had 17 points for East Lake (13-12).