Ricky Pena remembered the district final last season, the pain of losing a game his St. Petersburg Green Devils were supposed to win, the disappointment of playing on the road for the region round as a result, the subsequent end to his season in Largo.
All thanks to Boca Ciega, the defending Class 5A, District 9 champ.
Pena apparently wasn't the only one with a long memory. Friday night before a packed house at St. Petersburg, the Green Devils outplayed the Pirates at every position to run away with a convincing 74-63 victory.
Pena scored 28 to lead the Green Devils, who improved 13-4, and 8-1 in the district to remain tied for first with Gibbs.
"This was a tremendous game for us," said Pena, a senior guard and St. Petersburg's leading scorer. "Last year they beat us in the district, so tonight was all about redemption for us."
Both teams remain 3-0 in the Pinellas County Athletic Conference South Division. Their next meeting will count in the conference standings.
Crediting a plan by coach Chris Blackwell that Pena said was masterful _ "We felt like we could read their every move" _ the Green Devils played their best game of the season.
As Pena penetrated for most of his points, point guard Marquis Ford (14 points) controlled the flow and Brian Blakely (20) set the tone early with physical play inside.
The trio combined for 84 percent of St. Petersburg points.
"I think this was one of our most complete games we've played in a long time," Blackwell said.
St. Petersburg used an 11-0 run to close the first quarter and never trailed again.
Trailing 40-30 early in the third quarter, Bogie (8-7) scored the next eight points in a 30-second span to pull within 40-38, but Ford's 3-pointer stemmed that rally. He, Pena and Blakely scored 20 of the next 22 Green Devil points to extend the margin to 65-48, St. Petersburg's biggest lead.
Boca Ciega's top scorers on the season, Marquel Brooks and Enoris Sly, were quiet until the game was out of reach. Sly had a team-high 18 points and Brooks added 14, mostly in the fourth quarter.