St. Petersburg boys seven games from perfection

The Green Devils basketball program has a good shot at finishing the regular season without a loss.
St. Petersburg coach Chris Blackwell has had little reason to worry this season as his Green Devils remain unbeaten. (SCOTT PURKS | Special to the Times)
St. Petersburg coach Chris Blackwell has had little reason to worry this season as his Green Devils remain unbeaten. (SCOTT PURKS | Special to the Times)
Published January 17
Updated January 17

ST. PETERSBURG — After putting together this season’s boys basketball schedule, St. Petersburg coach Chris Blackwell started to look at this week and wondered if he had made the wrong move.

The Green Devils had back-to-back games against East Lake (Tuesday) and Lakewood (Wednesday), two teams that are among the best in the area.

For St. Petersburg, everything turned out just fine.

There was no sign of fatigue — or failure.

The Green Devils prevailed in both.

They beat the Eagles 59-41 to complete the regular-season sweep and clinch the top seed in the Class 8A, District 10 tournament. St. Petersburg followed that up by knocking off neighborhood rival Lakewood 72-63 to put the Green Devils in good position to play in the Pinellas County Athletic Conference title game.

“The guys just have this belief that they are not going to lose,” Blackwell said.

St. Petersburg is now 17-0 with a good shot at going undefeated in the regular season for the first time in decades — if ever — for a storied program that dates to the 1920s.

The closest Blackwell ever came to going undefeated was in the 2013-14 regular season when the Green Devils had just one loss (50-49 to Wharton).

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Of the seven games left on the schedule, only three are against teams with winning records (Anclote, Gibbs and West Oaks). Then there is likely a conference championship game.

Blackwell, though, is not thinking that far ahead.

“Our next game is against Seminole (Jan. 22),” he said. “That’s what we’re looking at. I don’t think there’s any pressure because that’s all we’re looking at — the next game.”

Depth has been key in St. Petersburg’s unblemished mark. On Wednesday, the Green Devils had six players with at least six points. In the second half, Deondre Earley hit four 3-pointers, including a crucial one in the fourth quarter that helped St. Petersburg pull away from Lakewood.

“We have guys that can come through at any moment,” Blackwell said. “That’s been big. They just have a high amount of confidence right now.”

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