CLEARWATER — Whether he was slashing, leaping or flinging shots from 20 feet, Justin Gray could hardly miss Friday night. The one time he did, the Berkeley Prep junior smiled, which said everything that needed to be said about the Bright House Tournament semifinal against Gainesville.
Berkeley Prep scored a lot, defended well and rarely saw a stressful moment in a 66-37 rout.
The Bucs improved to 12-0 and can win their first regular-season tournament title in a decade when they play Strawberry Crest in tonight's championship at 8:15.
The Chargers advanced with a 73-48 victory over host Clearwater.
Three Bucs scored in double figures, none with more flair than Gray, the emerging star. He provided the only suspense during the second half as he tried to reach 1,000 points for his career. He hit it right on the mark with 19 points, the final one coming on a free throw to cap a three-point play during the final three minutes.
"I didn't even know I was close to getting to 1,000 until coach (Bobby Reinhart) told me at halftime," Gray said. "He asked if I wanted to get it, and I said, 'Heck yeah!' "
Gray scored on driving dunks and runners and made two of Berkeley Prep's four 3-pointers.
He also inadvertently provided some comic relief with one of his rare misses of the night — an attempted dunk early in the fourth quarter.
On a night when the Bucs could do little wrong, even that embarrassing moment turned out okay. Gray grabbed the rebound and converted a layup.
Gray smiled sheepishly after he made it.
"We figured out how much he needed to get to 1,000 before the game," Reinhart said. "I didn't want to tell him until the half. He needed 14 points in the second half to do it, and he just went, did his thing and got it done."
Berkeley Prep controlled the game from the start, jumping out to an 11-0 lead. In the second half, the Bucs were up by as many as 32. In all, Berkeley Prep had seven players score.
Routs were common on the second day of the tournament.
In the other semifinal, Strawberry Crest led 21-7 after the first quarter and cruised from there. Karel Hamilton had 19 points and Devin Diggs 15 to lead the Chargers.
The Tornadoes' Rasim Avmet hit a field goal in the fourth quarter to give him 10 points and become the only player from his team to reach double figures in scoring.
Boca Ciega 74, Nature Coast 50: Dallas Moore again lit up the scoreboard, scoring 33 points to help the Pirates cruise in a consolation game. Moore hit five 3-pointers and now has 58 points in two tournament games. Michael Clark dominated inside for Boca Ciega and had 25. Rohan Blackwood scored a team-high 17 for the Sharks.
Mitchell 85, Alonso 60: The Mustangs rebounded from a loss Thursday to rout the Ravens. Bernie Conley led Mitchell with 24 points. Alonso's Jahkeal Samuel had 23.
Bob Putnam can be reached at [email protected]