5A region basketball: Boca Ciega 64, East Lake 30

GULFPORT — Tamara Taylor is the best girls basketball player in Pinellas County, but that didn't stop her from taking a charge in the district semifinals that left her unable to play in the final.

And nor did that injury, to her back, keep her from suiting up Thursday night and doing what she does best — leading her Pirates to a 64-30 region quarterfinal win over East Lake.

Taylor scored 29, and 12 of those came in a pivotal third quarter as the Pirates, winners of 12 straight, came out of halftime with a slim 28-23 lead.

Scoring off her own defensive pressure and on drives to the basket, Taylor helped Boca Ciega, trying for a third straight trip to the state semifinals, pull away on a night when she also eclipsed 2,000 points for her career.

She came out early in the fourth quarter to rest her back, a little later than coach Will White had hoped for.

"I think people will see she had 29 points and say, oh, that's just a typical Tamara Taylor night," White said. "But what they won't know is that she did it with a lot of heart and guts tonight."

The Eagles (19-10) were able to keep the game close at the midway point thanks to Brooke Chester's eight first-half points, and 9-of-11 free-throw shooting in the second quarter.

Taylor and Destiny Brown had three fouls apiece for the Pirates by halftime, but they were able to stick around long enough to inflict damage on the Eagles during a 17-4 third-quarter burst.

Brown finished with 15 points, and Jakera Allen added 13 for the Pirates, who will meet Clearwater in Tuesday's region semifinals. It's the eighth playoff meeting in the past 10 years for the rivals, with the Tornadoes holding a 5-2 edge.

5A region basketball: Boca Ciega 64, East Lake 30 02/10/11 [Last modified: Thursday, February 10, 2011 11:44pm]

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