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5A boys basketball: Sickles topples Clearwater 48-46

From left, Clearwater’s Trey Larry, Cory Carden and coach Allen Carden watch Sickles receive the region championship trophy.


From left, Clearwater’s Trey Larry, Cory Carden and coach Allen Carden watch Sickles receive the region championship trophy.

TAMPA — Moments after providing Clearwater with the season's last basket, and last gasp of hope for that matter, Cory Carden provided its last image.

It was a poignant one, of the point guard weeping on the shoulder of his dad and coach. On a tense, tightly officiated night, Carden and his teammates had just had their collective heart broken in 3s.

And an unsuspecting Sickles backup did the dissecting.

Squeezing a career game into the final eight minutes of the Class 5A region final, Gryphons senior guard Caleb Kamm scored 11 of his 15 points in the final period, including consecutive 3-pointers and two free throws, to help propel Sickles (28-2) to a 48-46 win against the Tornadoes (24-7).

"We didn't see (Kamm) coming," Tornadoes coach Allen Carden acknowledged afterward. "But you need those types of games to get in the final four."

That's where the Gryphons are headed after a furious evening that featured 13 lead changes, two technical fouls and a string of clutch plays by both teams. Perhaps none were bigger than the ones delivered by Kamm, whose back-to-back 3s helped spark a 10-0 Gryphons run that gave them a 43-37 lead.

But while Kamm took the Tornadoes out of the 5A bracket, Sickles' suffocating man defense and early foul trouble for 6-foot-9 center and FSU commitment Okaro White took Clearwater out of its uptempo element.

White, held to six points, picked up his second foul, a technical, with 3:52 to play in the first period. White and Jordan Davis appeared to bump each other after Davis called timeout upon being trapped in a corner.

"I didn't think he deserved that," Allen Carden said, "but the referee said he did, and he came back and called one on (Sickles' Rashawn Rembert), so it was consistent."

Re-entering with 5:10 to play in the second and Clearwater trailing 16-11, White sparked a 7-0 run with a pair of free throws and nifty interior feed to Branden Leston for a layup. But the Tornadoes, who never led by more than four, couldn't sustain the rhythm nor consistently create second shots.

"They were really physical with him, and he was off a little bit," Carden said. "We've got to have his 18 points a game, and he just didn't get to ever get in sync. You've got to give them credit for that defense."

After Sickles' 10-0 run to a 43-37 lead, Clearwater answered with Joey Nungester's 3-pointer and a traditional three-point play by Dionta Hubbard to tie the score with 59.3 seconds to play.

But Kamm answered with two free throws seven seconds later, and White missed a jumper in the lane on the ensuing possession. Rembert's two free throws made it 47-43 with 18.1 seconds to go. Cory Carden (14 points) hit a 3 with 3.3 seconds to go.

"I just thought the guys were resilient tonight," Gryphons coach Renaldo Garcia said.

On the Web

Watch video highlights from the Clearwater-Sickles game, and check out a photo gallery from this game as well as Lakewood's, at

5A boys basketball: Sickles topples Clearwater 48-46 02/27/10 [Last modified: Saturday, February 27, 2010 11:15pm]
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