GULFPORT — With a chance to talk about her standout play following Boca Ciega's 43-35 win Thursday night over rival St. Petersburg, Pirates guard Tamara Taylor politely declined.
"She's a little shy," Boca Ciega coach Will White said.
No worries; Taylor's play spoke volumes.
On a night when most had trouble finding the basket and only three players hit double figures, Taylor keyed a big first-quarter run that proved to be the difference. During a 15-0 spurt for the Pirates (4-0), the 5-foot-9 junior, widely regarded as one of the state's top college prospects in her class, scored seven of her team-high 17 points.
St. Petersburg (2-1) never fully recovered.
The game otherwise was anything but pretty.
Neither team shot particularly well. Neither took great care of the ball.
But both, to their credit, slugged and scraped during every possession.
"It was very sloppy," White said. "But I liked our intensity."
Taylor had help from senior guard Latavia Dempsey (11 points), and freshman starters Kyra Edwards, Kenya Joseph and Alexis Ungro, who admittedly were nervous making their first home starts in a packed gymnasium.
"I think we could have done a lot better offensively," Ungro said. "We could have passed the ball better and gotten more looks."
St. Petersburg trailed by as much as 17, but didn't fold. Behind junior guard Kamika Idom (21 points), it closed to within eight with 1:26 left. But a Taylor layup pushed the lead back into double figures and that was that.