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Bright House Shootout: Clearwater, White sail into final vs. Wiregrass

CLEARWATER — The offense was relentless and merciless Monday, but that has been the case a lot lately.

Clearwater is scoring in bunches and getting contributions from everyone. Add a defense that has been effective, if not spectacular, and you have a six-game win streak from a team that no longer resembles the bunch that started 1-3.

The rampaging Tornadoes overwhelmed Plant City in the semifinals of the Bright House Shootout, jumping out to 30-point lead at the half in an 85-51 victory.

Clearwater (7-3) will play Wiregrass Ranch (8-2) in the championship game at 8 tonight.

"That's about as well as we've played in the half all year," Tornadoes coach Allen Carden said. "We were clicking on all cylinders."

The string of victories for Clearwater has coincided with the return of Okaro White.

White, who was out with a sprained ankle, helped alter shots on the defensive end and his presence on offense opened up things for everyone else.

The Tornadoes shot 22-of-33 in the first half and hit eight 3-pointers. By the end of the first quarter, it was 29-9. By halftime, Clearwater was ahead 56-26.

"Everyone is going to see the score and think it was all about our offense," Carden said. "But I was really pleased with our defense and rebounding."

In all, the Tornadoes had 11 players score. White had 24 points and Brandon Leston had 20 to lead Clearwater.

In the other semifinal, Wiregrass Ranch beat Gibbs 61-56.

"This was the biggest win in school history," Bulls coach Jeremy Calzone said.

The victory tied the record for most victories in a season for the fourth-year program.

But Calzone was more impressed with beating a press of the Gladiators' caliber.

"We knew (Gibbs) would be fast and aggressive," Calzone said. "We just had to be patient."

Wiregrass Ranch was not goaded into playing at a faster pace all over the court. The Bulls waited for the opportunity to get the ball inside to their big man, Eric Williams.

Williams, more accustomed to being triple teamed in Pasco County, feasted on single coverage and set a school record with 33 points.

Gibbs (6-3) was led by Ke'Owen Walker, who scored 19.

Bright House Shootout: Clearwater, White sail into final vs. Wiregrass 12/21/09 [Last modified: Monday, December 21, 2009 11:36pm]
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