GULFPORT — As usual, Boca Ciega got plenty of production from guards Latavia Dempsey, Tamara Taylor and Alexis Ungro in Friday's Pinellas County Athletic Conference championship against Clearwater.
It also helped that the Pirates had destiny on their side.
With 12 seconds left, freshman forward Destiny Brown grabbed an offensive rebound and made the putback to give the Pirates a five-point lead, effectively icing the game and ending a furious Clearwater rally. Moments later, Boca Ciega claimed a 56-53 win for its 17th straight victory.
"That was big," Pirates coach Will White said of Brown's basket. "If she had missed, the momentum would have been on Clearwater's side."
For much of the game, it looked as if Boca Ciega (24-1) would win with relative ease. Behind Dempsey (19 points), Taylor (11) and Ungro (17), the Pirates built a 16-point fourth-quarter lead.
But then, Clearwater got hot. And Boca Ciega went flat.
"As the game went on, we started getting more comfortable against their zone," Clearwater coach Tom Shaneyfelt said.
Behind Tyra Bolden (14 points), Victoria Cecil (12) and Lashe Kirkland (11), the Tornadoes (19-6) surged back into the game. A Cecil 3-pointer cut the lead to 50-43 with 6:08 left. Clearwater later moved to within five, then three when Bolden scored with 23.8 seconds to go after a steal.
On its next possession, Boca Ciega got a good look at the basket, but the shot missed.
However, Brown, who finished with six points, was waiting under the hoop. She quickly grabbed the ball and converted the layup.
"You've got to be ready and I was ready," Brown said. "I'm glad I was able to put it back in there."