ST. PETERSBURG — Missing four players Wednesday night against Gibbs, including two starters, Clearwater had no choice but to press on. The best way to do so, Tornadoes coach Tom Shaneyfelt felt, was to press the opponent.
"I just never thought we'd do it as much as we did," he said.
Forcing turnover after turnover, the Tornadoes created enough easy scoring chances to offset an otherwise not-so-spectacular offensive night and down Gibbs 49-35.
"The seven (players) we had came out and played hard," Shaneyfelt said.
Shaneyfelt said one player had an ankle injury and the others didn't play because of minor discipline infractions.
The truth is, the missing were hardly missed. After falling behind 6-0, it was pretty much all Clearwater (6-1) the rest of the way. By the half the Tornadoes led 25-18, and in the third quarter they pulled ahead by 17 thanks largely to the play of guard Lashe Kirkland, who finished with a game-high 19 points.
Most of Clearwater's baskets came off steals.
"We definitely wanted to press," Kirkland said. "Our defense was good tonight. It led to easy shots."
A 10-0 run that started late in the third quarter pulled the Gladiators (2-3), who got 12 points from Shineice Beamon, to within seven but that was as close as they would get.
"We were all over the floor," Shaneyfelt said. "We didn't always execute, but the effort was there."