VENICE — Boca Ciega and Venice dug their heels in and wouldn't give the other the chance run away with the game. With 3.7 seconds left Tuesday, Indians guard Kyle Jutras banked in a runner in the lane over two defenders to give Venice a 35-33 lead that held up as the winning margin. Bryce Mosley's 3-point attempt fell short.
"We played great defense and made him (Jutras) take a tough shot from a tough angle and he banks it in," Pirates coach Randy Shuman said. "We had a good look but we rushed it."
Boca Ciega forward Myron Dempsey scored eight of the Pirates' first 10 points but Venice led by two after one quarter.
The teams continued their ball control battle in the second quarter, but the Pirates weren't able to dent the deficit as Venice took a 23-20 lead into halftime.
"We can play the style they play," Shuman said. "We'd actually prefer to play games like this."
The Pirates (22-6) made their run in the third quarter, forcing Venice into bad shots and turnovers to take a 28-27 lead into the fourth.
Boca Ciega added four straight points to start the fourth quarter and appeared to be pulling away. But the Indians fought back with a layup from Trey Burton to close the gap to 32-29.
"The game was decided at the 6:40 mark of the fourth quarter," Shuman said. "We had three bad possessions and made three bad decisions. We forgot how we got the lead, by playing good defense and getting the ball inside."
After another Venice (27-3) basket to make the score 32-31, Dempsey came to the line and made one of two free throws to give Boca Ciega a two-point lead. The Indians got the ball with 1:22 remaining and kept possession until Jutras was able to sink the winner.
"I can't be more proud of our seniors," Shuman said. "A lot of them worked hard and committed to our program. They deserved to get to play another game. I really wanted to go farther for them."
The Pirates were led by Dempsey's 13 points and nine rebounds. Richard Prince added eight points and Julius Forte contributed eight rebounds.
The Indians were led by Burton, who finished with 14 points, five rebounds and four steals.