PALM HARBOR — Palm Harbor University proved to be the more powerful of the Hurricanes, beating visiting Bradenton Manatee 50-35 Wednesday in the Class 8A, District 8 semifinals.
Palm Harbor U. (14-7) will face St. Petersburg (17-1) at 7 p.m. Friday.
Senior guard Joe Pigozzo hit three 3-pointers, all from the same spot, in the first quarter as PHU jumped to a 23-7 lead.
Manatee (2-13) battled back, but Pigozzo hit another of his six 3-pointers in the second quarter to squash a 9-2 Manatee run that made it 28-16 at halftime.
"(Manatee) switched defenses, and we were hesitant with the way we attacked," PHU coach Mark Carter said.
Though the adjustments paused PHU much of the second half, nothing could contain Pigozzo, who hit another 3. A hustle play by Joe Walker, diving for a ball heading out of bounds and sending it to DeAndre Williams for an easy bucket, iced the game in the final minutes.
Pigozzo broke the school record for career 3-pointers earlier in the season. Wednesday, he broke the single-season record and increased it.
"He had 71 coming in and he was 6-for-7 tonight, that puts him at 77; 73 was the old record," Carter said. "He's lights-out, he hit five (3-pointers) the last time we played (Manatee)."
In the other 8A-8 semifinal, St. Petersburg advanced by beating Sarasota Riverview 64-58.
Three Green Devils reached double figures, led by Ben Clare's 16.
Riverview's A.J. Caldwell led all scorers with 20 points, while teammate Nick Havener was close behind with 18.
"We were determined to come out and take control of the game," said St. Petersburg coach Chris Blackwell. "We wanted to play uptempo."
Class 7A-9: East Lake, Seminole to clash
SEMINOLE — Led by Kyle Mogged, East Lake built leads as high as 14 points and then staved off Clearwater 51-48 as Trevor Godfrey had a hustling putback with 6.2 seconds left.
The victory puts the Eagles (15-8) in the finals against host Seminole.
"It's a little bit of a double-edged sword, but I just went out there and gave it my all," said Mogged, who finished with 16 points, seven assists and three steals while making several turnovers before fouling out with 1:23 left.
"Kyle took over," said Eagles coach Joe Bloznalis. "He's such a hard-nosed defender and he really pushes our offense."
Mogged scored all but three of East Lake's 15 second-quarter points with a variety of twisting drives to the hoop that, more often than not, got him knocked to the floor.
Trevor Schnell (18 points, including four 3-pointers,) received several passes from Mogged while his final assist led to Godfrey's 3 with 1:46 left to give East Lake a four-point lead.
Clearwater (12-14) crept close behind forward Rasim Avmet (team-high 13 points) plus key buckets from Josh Wilson (seven points) and Ryan Ierna (11 points), whose putback with 20 seconds left knotted the contest at 48.
"We played pretty good defense, but we gave up too many second and third chances," Bloznalis said.
East Lake will face the top-seeded Warhawks, who picked apart Northeast's defense, rolling to leads as large as 24 points before easing to a 72-60 triumph.
In the other semifinal, Seminole (18-3) easily played over the top of the smaller Vikings (5-19), racking up 18 assists on its 25 baskets led by five each from Connor Frain (12 points, seven rebounds) and Marco Behori (15 points, eight rebounds).
Tanner Cowan led Seminole with 19 points, while T.J. Frounfelter finished with 15 including a 5-for-8 effort from behind the arc.
Behind the play of point guard Keith Harrington, Northeast closed to eight on three occasions but couldn't get closer. Harrington (18 points), Eric Pederson (25 points, including six 3-pointers) and D'Angelo Body (12 points, 10 in the fourth quarter) sparked a 28-point final period for the underdogs.
"Mentally, we kind of lost interest in the fourth quarter," Warhawks coach Josh Walker said. "We can't do that against East Lake. If we don't play 32 minutes against them, we won't have a chance."
5A-8 Tarpon Springs in final
If Class 5A-8 has been one of the most unpredictable districts this season, Wednesday's semifinals did nothing to change that.
Tarpon Springs surged back after a slow first half to defeat Anclote 64-56, and third-seeded Gulf dominated No. 2 seed Land O'Lakes 55-28. The Buccaneers and Spongers will meet Friday in the championship.
This marks Gulf's first playoff appearance since 2005. Tarpon Spring's last quarterfinals showing was in 2011.
Anclote and Tarpon Springs played a tight first half.
"We weren't playing any defense at all in the first half," Tarpon Springs coach Jerry Woodka said.
But in the third quarter Tarpon Spring's Scottie James scored six points in the first three minutes, leading an aggressive attack that racked up 24 points for the Spongers in the quarter.
Damarian Gulley had 18 points for the Spongers, and Trai Halton had 15.
6A-10: By the fourth quarter, Largo (23-2) had such a commanding lead that a running clock brought an early end to an 83-42 rout of Springstead.
Packers coach Phil Price sent in players off the bench, but the roster is so deep, so talented, that even the reserves can go on scoring sprees.
"We put in a couple of players from junior varsity and they hit three straight 3-pointers and go on a 9-0 run," Price said. "It was that kind of night."
The Packers (23-2) will host Mitchell on Friday. The Mustangs advanced with a 37-31 win over Osceola in the other semifinal.
The Packers have yet to lose to a bay area team and have won each district game by at least nine points.
5A-10: As expected, Lakewood and Gibbs, the top two seeds, both advanced with convincing wins in the semifinals. The Spartans beat Bradenton Bayshore 80-56 as Anthony Lawrence Jr. and Jacobi Boykins each had more than 20 points.
The Gladiators beat Bradenton Southeast 73-43. Gibbs had four players score in double figures: Daniel Davis (17), Barry Brown (16), Marquez Walls (11) and Sajon Ford (10).
This will be the third meeting this season. The Gladiators won the previous two by a combined seven points.
Times staff writers Bob Putnam and Mary Kenney, and correspondents Chuck Frye and Anthony Salveggi contributed to this report.