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Boca Ciega's foe tall and patient

Boca Ciega coach Randy Shuman ran his practice Monday, looking at the court, then at his notes. With a few phone calls, he got a sketchy scouting report on Springfield Rutherford High, the Pirates' semifinal opponent Wednesday in the Class 4A state basketball tournament in Tallahassee.

How good is this Rutherford team from Springfield (near Panama City)?

The early report is that Rutherford is taller, Boca Ciega quicker. Rutherford plays with a patient offense, while the Pirates run forever. Rutherford likes the zone defense, Boca Ciega man-to-man. Rutherford is 24-7 and ranked ninth in the 4A state poll. Boca Ciega is ranked No. 8 and is now 31-2 after receiving a forfeit win (see related story this page).

Boca Ciega plays Rutherford at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, preceded by the other 4A semifinal at 4:45 p.m. between Bradenton Southeast (32-4) and Hallandale (26-1) from Broward County.

The evening at the Leon County Civic Center will be capped by the Florida State-Georgia Tech game at 9:30 (spectators at the high school games can stay for free and watch the college kids).

Boca Ciega players would like to watch FSU with a smile on their faces, i.e. a winning smile. To beat the Rams, Boca Ciega will have to break down their strengths _ height, outside shooting, ball control.

"Offensively, they set a lot of picks for their jump shots," said Bruce Rosebruck, whose Jacksonville Wolfson team lost 61-43 to Rutherford in the regional semifinal. "And they like to dump it into their 6-6 kid (Markus Price). They are tall and they love to rebound."

Price is a sophomore center who averages 10 points and eight rebounds a game. He is joined underneath by two 6-4 forwards, Tyrone McCreary (10.9 and 7.3 averages) and Marcus Lawton (11.6 and 9). The tallest Boca Ciega players are 6-3.

The Rams guards may be the key. Tyrone Baker (6-3) likes to hit from outside and averages 17 points a game. Point guard Francisco Vasquez is 6-2, averages nine points, and is said to handle pressure well.

"But when we pressed them we did rattle them," Rosebruck said.

Rutherford likes to play a zone defense, with Baker and Vasquez harassing the shooters. Boca Ciega plays well against a zone defense, especially when the Pirates lead.

The Rams usually keep their starting five on the court almost the whole game, with substitute Nate Burnett making an occasional appearance.

Although Rutherford has had four straight 20-win seasons, this is the Rams' first trip to the state tournament.

Boys state basketball

tournament pairings

WEDNESDAY

Session 1

Class B semifinal: Bayshore Christian (31-5) vs. Pompano Beach Highlands Christian (24-5), 9 a.m.

Class B semifinal: Malone (34-2) vs. West Palm Beach Gold Coast (29-7), 10:45 a.m.

Class 2A semifinal: Wildwood (17-15) vs. West Palm Beach Cardinal Newman (31-5), 12:30 p.m.

Session 2

Class 2A semifinal: Port St. Joe (25-7) vs. Lake Butler Union Co. (27-7), 3 p.m.

Class 4A semifinal: Bradenton Southeast (32-4) vs. Hallandale (26-1), 4:45 p.m.

Class 4A semifinal: Springfield Rutherford (24-7) vs. Boca Ciega (30-3), 6:30 p.m.

THURSDAY

Session 3

Class A semifinal: Tallahassee FAMU (21-11) vs. Hollywood Christian (27-4), 10 a.m.

Class A semifinal: Apalachicola (13-11) vs. Eatonville Wymore Center (28-5), 11:45 a.m.

Session 4

Class 3A semifinal: Gainesville Eastside (23-6) vs. Naples Lely (28-5), 2:30 p.m.

Class 3A semifinal: Jacksonville Ribault (28-2) vs. Lake Wales (25-7), 4:15 p.m.

Session 5

Class 5A semifinal: Orlando Boone vs. Miami Northwestern, 7 p.m.

Class 5A semifinal: Daytona Beach Mainland vs. Lauderdale Lakes Boyd Anderson, 8:45 p.m.

FRIDAY

Session 6 _ championships

Class B _ 3:30 p.m.; Class 2A _ 5:30 p.m.; Class 4A _ 7:30 p.m.

SATURDAY

Session 7 _ championships

Class A _ 3:30 p.m.; Class 3A _ 5:30 p.m.; Class 5A _ 7:30 p.m.

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