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Boca Ciega advances in 4A tournament

St. Petersburg Boca Ciega and Hallandale, which will play for the Class 4A championship Friday, each showed they're capable of blowing out an opponent Friday.

They also showed they're capable of blowing a big lead.

Boca Ciega took commanding 15-1 and 23-9 leads but then had to hold on for a 64-63 victory over Springfield Rutherford. Corey Ellis tipped in a missed shot with 11.3 seconds remaining to halt Rutherford's rally.

Hallandale led Bradenton Southeast by 12 in the second half, but allowed the Seminoles to close to within two with five minutes remaining before winning 61-52.

Sebastian Henry and Kelton Reed scored clutch baskets down the stretch to extend the Chargers' lead to 59-52. With just under two minutes left in the game, Southeast blew its last opportunity to stay in contention by missing six shots on one possession.

Bayshore Christian, the only Hillsborough County team with a chance for a title, will face an uphill battle against tradition-laden Malone on Friday. Winner of eight state titles, the Tigers showed they're capable of winning a ninth with an impressive 93-55 victory against West Palm Beach Gold Coast Corporate.

Using a pressure defense, Malone dominated right from the beginning by converting turnovers into easy baskets. When the easy baskets weren't available, the Tigers simply dropped back and hit seven first-half three-point goals.

Holding Gold Coast forward Robert Jones (21.2 ppg) scoreless in the first half, Malone went up 25-9 after the first quarter and 58-23 at halftime.

Rodney Jackson led six Malone players in double figures with 17 points. Marvin Williams finished with 15 for Gold Coast.

West Palm Beach Cardinal Newman and Port St. Joe set the stage for the Class 2A championship by winning semifinals. Newman defeated Wildwood 67-53 and Port St. Joe downed Union County 78-57.

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