ST. PETERSBURG — Wharton had its special moments in Tuesday's Class 6A region semifinal against St. Petersburg.
There was a two-handed, alley-oop dunk from Xavier Owens late in the third quarter and another one-handed jam by Owens early in the fourth.
Trouble was, those moments were short-lived.
For most of the night, the Wildcats, particularly their guards, were swimming alone against the tide, hoping against hope that one of their teammates would at least wave a life preserver at them.
None of them did.
Wharton could not handle the Green Devils' stifling defense and had its 25-game win streak snapped in a 61-44 loss.
"I can't remember a game where we had that many turnovers in that fashion," Wildcats coach Tommy Tonelli said. "That's a credit to St. Petersburg's quickness and effort on defense."
The Green Devils (23-6) made sure to put pressure on Wharton's guards. And when St. Petersburg had the ball, it looked for the outside shot and retrieved missed heaves when its marksmanship was off.
At the half, the Green Devils built a 26-18 lead and increased it to 47-32 in the third quarter.
Wharton (27-2) cut it to 47-36 to start the fourth quarter but could not get any closer.
"Whenever we got what we thought was a key basket, (St. Petersburg) would come back and answer and take away that momentum," Tonelli said.
Owens led the Wildcats with 18 points. Jerry Poindexter-Brown had a team-high 18 for the Green Devils, followed by Allen Wilson and Gabe Moton, who had 15 each.
"We came out and played hard-nose defense and put pressure on their guards," Moton said. "It definitely paid off."