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Clearwater girls knock off Class 4A's No. 1

After losing to Bradenton Southeast three times in as many years, Clearwater's girls basketball team got redemption Saturday with a 50-41 win over the Class 4A, No. 1 ranked Seminoles.

The road victory was even more gratifying for the Tornadoes because it erased memories of a fourth-quarter collapse in a 15-point loss to Southeast last month.

"This was definitely big for us," Clearwater coach Tom Shaneyfelt said. "When we played (Southeast) the last time, I thought they were one of the top five in any class."

By making a concentrated effort to box out Seminoles' top playmakers, Clearwater (17-2) jumped to an 11-4 lead in the first quarter.

The closest Southeast (17-3) got was 36-30 at the end of the third. The Tornadoes broke the game open, outscoring the Seminoles 14-11 down the stretch. Rachel Hammond scored 11 and Karen Braden and Nicole Ryan each added 10 for Clearwater.

"We played better defense this time around, and Southeast just wasn't able to get shots to go in," Shaneyfelt said. "In the second half I thought we played as well as we have all year."

This is the second time the Tornadoes have knocked off a No. 1 this season. In December they beat the top team in Class A, Miami Northwest Christian.

PALM HARBOR U. 40, ST. PETERSBURG CATHOLIC 32: PHU pulled out the win in a foul-plagued, low-scoring game in which the teams combined for 41 fouls, with visiting PHU committing 24. Lauren McNary led the Hurricanes with 10 points. Brittani Hicks and Brittany Crain contributed nine and eight respectively.

After leading 22-16 at halftime, PHU continued a 14-2 run to lead 28-18 midway through the third. SPC (14-5) fought back with a 9-0 run to start the fourth, with Lindsey Ritler going 5-of-6 from the line in the run. Robin Link's bucket gave the Barons the lead at 31-30 with 2:33 left. Palm Harbor (16-4) came back with Latoya Whiting's layup and Crain's two free throws with 48 seconds left.

Link led the Barons with 13 points. Ritler and Stephanie Spiewak scored nine each.

_ CARMINO IMONDI

Boys basketball

ST. PETERSBURG CATHOLIC 66, CCC 54: After a raucous first meeting this year, the visiting Barons won again and hold a 2-game lead over the Marauders (10-5) in the 3A-District 9 race.

"Anytime you get a district win on the road, its great," SPC coach Mike Moran said. "It's about the right situation for us to start getting better now and carry that into the postseason."

The Barons (15-1, 7-0 district) didn't get much help from leading scorer Aaron Holmes, who had 10. Travis Karto's 26, including a 3-pointer with less than three minutes to play, boosted the Barons.

"Travis breaks it open for us with his energy," Moran said.

There were eight lead changes in the second half before Karto nailed his only 3 to give SPC the first comfortable lead of the night at 60-51.

CCC was led by Chip Brinkman and Colin McCarthy with 12 points each.

_ ERIC MUSKATEVC

Wrestling

PINELLAS PARK _ After losing eight varsity wrestlers to grades this month, first-year Pinellas Park coach Walt Allison knew he would have a depleted lineup the rest of the season.

That was not good news for the Patriots, who hosted the 10-team Patriot Duals, but despite not being at full strength, Pinellas Park went 4-1 and finished second.

The Patriots came close to winning, falling to Class 3A No. 7 Riverview 39-35 in the final. The difference in the meet came at the 145-pound bout: Pinellas Park's Ruben Bosques let a 7-3 lead slip away and was pinned.

"There were two matches that I felt were going to be tough, 103 and 145," Allison said. "We won one of those bouts but lost the other."

Matt Walker, undefeated in the 103 class, was named Pinellas Park's MVP as the Patriots finished second at a tournament for the third time this season.

"We have two ninth-graders and two sophomores in the lineup, so we're still going through some growing pains," Allison said.

Palm Harbor went 4-1 and finished third, followed by East Lake, Dixie Hollins and Dunedin.

_ BOB PUTNAM

ST. PETE CLASSIC: St. Petersburg celebrated its dominance in front of a home crowd, and if winning five consecutive city championships failed to impress the rest of the dual meet's eight-team field, the way the Green Devils routed them must have.

The tournament host was undefeated, winning all four of its head-to-head matches. Tarpon Springs, which finished second, was the only school to keep things close before losing by 10.

Evanc Rajta, the tournament's MVP, wrestled Jason LeBeau of Tarpon Springs in the 152-pound class in what turned out to be the deciding match in St. Petersburg's 43-33 win.

Rajta trailed LeBeau 5-0 in the first period but got within one point going into the final period. LeBeau seemed to have the win solidified, leading 7-5 with less than 30 seconds remaining, but executed a reversal to tie it and immediately followed with a three-point nearfall to win 10-5.

Northeast beat Boca Ciega 57-24 to finish third. Admiral Farragut outlasted Gibbs 36-30 for fifth, and CCC beat Temple Heights for seventh.

_ JEREMY WRITT

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