TARPON SPRINGS — For the first time since 1999, Tarpon Springs will be making a postseason appearance, competing for Friday's Class 5A, District 11 championship as the Spongers convincingly ousted Seminole 67-40 Wednesday night.
"The atmosphere in the locker room wasn't very celebratory," Tarpon Springs coach James Margarella said. "We were pretty level-headed. I'm personally focused on that district championship. We know it means a lot for homecourt advantage.
"We hope this is the start of something, not the end of it."
Tarpon Springs (20-7) blew open the game in the second half after being up only 24-17 at halftime, as the Spongers went on a 10-0 run that led to a 34-17 lead no less than two minutes into the third quarter.
The Warhawks stayed in the game because of the hot shooting of senior guard Tyler Zacur, who scored 16 of Seminole's 17 first-half points and 27 of 40 overall. Spongers forward C.J. Bargman passed Tony Taylor (1,107 points) to become Tarpon Springs' all-time leading scorer, now standing at 1,117 points.
Tarpon Springs meets a familiar foe Friday, as Clearwater rolled past East Lake 68-47 in the other semifinal.
The Tornadoes and Spongers split the season series after each team won its home game.
Clearwater didn't have it easy at the start, with East Lake grabbing a 21-18 lead in the second quarter. But the Tornadoes' size in the front court was too much, as 6-foot-4 guard Jon Hogan and 6-10 center Josh Brown combined for 31 points and 18 rebounds.
"Tarpon Springs is a formidable foe and they beat us pretty good at their place and had us on the ropes at ours," Clearwater coach Allen Carden said.