ST. PETERSBURG — The St. Petersburg girls team knew full well what to expect with St. Petersburg Catholic coming to the Green Devils' home court on Saturday. And that was a heavy dose of Jerica Coley, who had dropped 42 points against Tampa Catholic the night before.
The Green Devils used a similar defensive approach to what the Crusaders tried, rotating different players on Coley throughout the game. It worked just well enough as St. Petersburg "held" the all-everything guard, who was still visibly fatigued from Friday's game, to 28 points during the Green Devils' 56-50 victory.
St. Petersburg (5-1) built substantial leads in the first half only to see St. Petersburg Catholic (5-2) fight back and take the lead in the third period.
But after Coley's two free throws gave the Barons a 41-40 lead early in the fourth quarter, Kamiya Smith drained a 3-pointer from the corner to fuel a nine-point run and the Green Devils never trailed again.
"We knew she was going to get her points, but our main goal was to make her work as hard as she could and keep her from doing what she did (against Tampa Catholic)," said Smith, who led the Green Devils with 16 points.
In the nightcap, the heavily favored Green Devils boys squad got all it could handle from the Barons, barely holding on for a 42-41 victory when two Green Devils defenders knocked a pass into the post off a Barons player and out of bounds with less than a second left in the game.
St. Petersburg (6-0), which had already beaten Clearwater and Boca Ciega this season, clearly underestimated the Barons (1-4) as the teams traded leads in a game dominated by turnovers.
St. Petersburg was ahead 42-39 with under a minute left in the game when SPC sophomore guard Jaquel Cooper stole the ball at midcourt and hit a driving layup before the final play.
Cooper led all scorers with 14 points. Jamel Miller led the Green Devils with 11 points.