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Bright House Shootout: White clears a path to title for Tornadoes, brushing by Bulls

Clearwater’s Okaro White lines up a shot in the first half. He scored 10 and had four blocks.


Clearwater’s Okaro White lines up a shot in the first half. He scored 10 and had four blocks.

CLEARWATER — Wiregrass Ranch's Eric Williams and Clearwater's Okaro White each pulverized a platoon of forwards during the first two rounds of the Bright House Shootout.

So it was only natural to assume that Williams, a 6-foot-10 forward being recruited by Eckerd, and White, a 6-9 forward who has signed with Florida State, would be the headline acts in Tuesday's championship game.

But the matchup between the two never materialized. Williams, slowed by foul trouble, had a front-row seat for much of the second quarter.

White, meanwhile, had his way around the basket, pummeling the Bulls almost every time he got the ball and helping Clearwater cruise to a 79-41 victory that was so lopsided a running clock was used during the fourth quarter.

"We're playing with a lot of confidence right now," Tornadoes coach Allen Carden said. "Our offense wasn't as sharp as it's been the first two games of the tournament. But the big thing has been our defense and our pressing and trapping."

Clearwater (8-3) surrounded Williams, who scored a school-record 33 in Monday's semifinal victory over Gibbs. He wasn't nearly as effective in the championship game, picking up two quick fouls in the first half and playing only in spurts much of the second.

Williams finished with 10 points and never really seemed to find a rhythm.

"Eric picked up some fouls and that hurt us," Wiregrass Ranch coach Jeremy Calzone said. "We just weren't as aggressive as we've been for some reason. We saw a bunch of big guys from Clearwater and backed down."

White, meanwhile, was able to back down his defender and finish with a layup or a dish to a teammate. He scored 10 to go along with four blocked shots and was named tournament MVP.

"I've played against Eric before and he usually gives his best when he goes against me," White said. "This game wasn't really to showcase me, though. The big thing was to get my teammates involved and get them some shots."

In all, 12 Clearwater players scored, including four who reached double figures. The others were John Hogan (17), Joey Nungester (14) and Brandon Leston (13).

The Tornadoes next play in the Tampa Hoops Classic on Saturday.

"The way we've played gets us ready for a tournament of that caliber," Carden said. "We're definitely going to bring our A game for that one."

Wiregrass Ranch41

. fast facts

Bright House all-tournament team

MVP: Okaro White, Clearwater

All-tournament team

• Malachi Christopher, Alonso

• John Hogan, Brandon Leston, Joey Nungester, Clearwater

• Max Klein, East Lake

• Devin Wilson, Gainesville P.K. Yonge

• Charlie Brooks, Ke'Owen Walker, Gibbs

• Mike Francis, Mitchell

• Brown Peterson, Chris Smith, Plant City

• Tanner Carey, James Tringali, Eric Williams, Wiregrass Ranch

Bright House Shootout: White clears a path to title for Tornadoes, brushing by Bulls 12/23/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 23, 2009 12:05am]
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