The fact that Wednesday's 70-51 win over Robinson improved Boca Ciega's record to 7-4 is pretty amazing to Pirates coach Randy Shuman, considering his team lost nine seniors from a year ago, has been almost completely overhauled and had modest expectations.
However, the realization that Bogie easily could be 10-1 _ three losses are by a combined four points _ well, that's a borderline miracle.
The undersized, undertalented, inexperienced Pirates, using primarily a zone defense for the first time in Shuman's 12 years at the school, broke down Robinson's pressure defense in the second half to overcome a halftime deficit and advance to the second round of the Hooters Holiday Shootout at the Bayfront Center.
"In (three of the losses), we've had the ball at the end with a shot to win the game," said Shuman, whose team sustained one-point defeats at Gibbs and to Port St. Joe last week in Gainesville and lost by two at Countryside. "That's hard to believe. So we're trying. We're trying."
Shuman and man-to-man defense long have been synonymous. However, the Pirates came out in a 2-3 zone against Robinson (3-8), and it worked.
"Our two bigger kids are not real good perimeter defenders right now," said Shuman, whose "bigger" kids, sophomore Jason John and junior Markese Bush, are generously listed at 6 feet 3. "We've got to play them together to help our rebounding, so we've got to play some zone."
The Knights scored just six points in the first quarter, and Boca Ciega led 24-14 midway through the second quarter before Robinson's pressure defense forced a flurry of turnovers. The Knights ended the half on a 13-2 to take a 27-26 lead.
"We turned it over against that pressure and let them back in it," Shuman said. "The second half, we handled it and got down there and made some easy baskets."
With Robinson shooting poorly _ it made just one three-pointer _ Bogie stayed in the 2-3 zone for the second half. Meanwhile, Devontae Royal, the lone returning regular, scored 16 of his team-high 20 points after intermission as Bogie pulled away.
The win sets up a second-round game against Northeast (3-5) at 7 p.m. today. The Vikings defeated Boca Raton Pope John Paul II 43-29.
OTHER ACTION: Lexington, S.C., hammered Dixie Hollins 79-39. The Rebels play Wharton (10-3), which lost 52-42 to West Palm Beach Cardinal Newman (7-3), at 10:30 a.m. today.
Junior forward Marcus Morrison scored 23 points to lead Lakewood (7-0) to a 66-53 win over Virginia Beach (Va.) Cape Henry. The Spartans play Jacksonville Arlington Country Day, a 64-51 winner over Florence (S.C.) Wilson, at 8:30 p.m. today.
SCHEDULING NOTE: All games now will be at the Bayfront Center.