PINELLAS PARK — The shot would either give Boca Ciega the lead and a chance to salvage an inconsistent offensive performance or would presumably send the game into overtime.
And Kenny Smith was the man the Pirates wanted their fate resting on.
In an instant Tuesday, Smith curled around a defender and discovered a clear view to the basket. He planted his foot, tilted forward and lifted a shot that fell softly into the net with 42 seconds left.
Boca Ciega played defense tough enough the rest of the way to secure the lead and a series sweep of district rival Pinellas Park in a 46-44 victory.
"I'm the leader of this team," Smith said. "I was confident I could make that shot and help our team get a win we really needed."
A week ago, the Pirates (12-5) were reeling after losing five of nine games. But they have won three straight and are still alive for one of the top two seeds in the district.
"We're in a tough stretch of games, and this one was important," Boca Ciega coach Randy Shuman said. "Pinellas Park has some good guards, and we knew we would have our hands full."
Early on the Patriots (8-7) were in control, using their perimeter game to take a 19-13 lead in the first quarter. The Pirates started clamping down and made enough shots to get back into the game.
Boca Ciega's first lead came with 5:51 left in the third quarter. From there, neither team was able to go ahead by more than five.
"It was a tough, defensive game," Pinellas Park coach Jon Cabino said. "Shots were not falling for either team."
The Patriots had a chance to tie the game when Colton Jacobs was fouled with 29 seconds left. He missed his free throw, but Pinellas Park grabbed the rebound. A potential winning shot, though, was off the mark with two seconds remaining.
"We played our butts off," Cabino said. "We just didn't make the one stop when we needed it."
D.J. White led the Pirates with 17 points and Srdjan Jankovic scored a team-high 15 for the Patriots.