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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.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

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.

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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 tampabay.com/hometeam

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