5A girls basketball: Boca Ciega squeaks by Clearwater in overtime

CLEARWATER — Her team trailing by three points, Clearwater's Lashe Kirkland grabbed the loose ball, took a step and in an effort to get a shot off before the final buzzer, heaved it from beyond halfcourt, a good 30 feet behind the 3-point line.

It never had a chance, but somewhere in that sequence, a whistle was blown.

The ruling: Kirkland was fouled, but before the shot attempt, giving her two meaningless free throws with 1.2 seconds left instead of the three free throws most in the gym thought she deserved.

She made them both, but it mattered little as Boca Ciega survived the Tornadoes 54-53 in overtime Tuesday night, making it 22 straight wins and sending the Pirates to the Class 5A region championship for the third straight season.

Bogie will host Sickles.

Clearwater coach Tom Shaneyfelt declined to speak about the final sequence, instead blaming the loss on his team's inability to hit free throws in the fourth. The Tornadoes made just 2-of-8 in the final 1:54, squandering a chance to pull away.

Bogie coach Will White said he thought the call was correct, as did guard Latavia Dempsey, who fouled Kirkland.

"She was on the floor," Dempsey said. "I was confident they were going to make the right call."

Regardless, it will likely be a hot debate today at both schools.

That the Tornadoes (22-7) even had a chance at the end was remarkable, considering they survived three winning shot attempts by the Pirates (28-1) in the final seconds of regulation and fell behind in overtime.

Bogie freshman Destiny Brown scored twice inside to open scoring and make it 44-40. After a Kirkland basket, Dempsey (game-high 20 points) hit a runner and Taylor (19 points) followed with a long 3-pointer to make it 49-42 with 1:40 remaining.

Kirkland scored two baskets and was fouled on each, but failed to make her free throws, and Emma Loucks hit a 3 from the corner with 22 seconds left to cut it to 52-51.

After two Dempsey free throws, Clearwater missed a 3, then stole the ball back to set off the final play.

5A girls basketball: Boca Ciega squeaks by Clearwater in overtime 02/16/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 17, 2010 12:24am]

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