If there was any doubting St. Petersburg Catholic's status as a strong favorite in Class 3A, District 9, it was confirmed with a resounding 74-34 win over Sarasota Cardinal Mooney in a rematch of last year's district semifinal.
Leading 20-16 after one quarter, the Barons allowed just 18 points the rest of the way.
"They graduated a bunch of guys and we just kind of jumped on them tonight," SPC coach Mike Moran said. "It was close after the first quarter, but from then on we decided we were going to cover them a little bit."
Aaron Holmes, Pinellas County's leading scorer, had 20 in the first half and finished with 26; he played little in the second half due to the lopsided score. But Moran was more pleased with the play of center Billy Tapp, who had his best outing of the year with 17 points.
"Billy is really, really starting to play like he did all year last year," Moran said. "He just had to get himself in basketball shape."
GIBBS 50, SEMINOLE 40: Naason Borden scored 18 to lead Gibbs in a 5A-10 game.
The Gladiators evened their district record at 1-1 (5-6 overall), with a big game Friday against district leader St. Petersburg. Seminole fell to 0-2.
Gibbs led throughout, and went into the final quarter with a 19-point lead. The Warhawks (4-6) got it down to nine points, and had three straight possessions with a chance to knock it down further but failed each time.
"It was a very ugly game," Seminole coach Bill Barnett said. "We're just totally unpredictable from game to game."
Devin Collins scored 15 and A.J. Comi had 13 to pace Seminole.
ST. PETERSBURG 70, BRADENTON MANATEE 35: The Green Devils are feasting on schools south of Pinellas.
After closing their holiday break with a tournament championship at Manatee High by beating Venice, Sarasota and Bradenton Southeast, the Green Devils tipped off 2005 by dominating Manatee.
Forward Brian Blakely, the MVP of the Manatee tournament, led the Green Devils with 18 points and 10 rebounds, and point guard Marquis Ford added 10 points and seven assists.
"We're kind of jelling right now," St. Petersburg coach Chris Blackwell said. "Defensively, we're playing pretty good. We're playing with a lot of continuity. Tonight we kind of jumped on them and took them out of any rhythm that they could get into."
Christian Boyle and Donald Bowens each scored nine for St. Petersburg and Bowens had a game-high 12 rebounds.
LAKEWOOD 61, BRADENTON BAYSHORE 26: Lakewood's high-pressure defense held Bayshore to three points in the first quarter and two in the third in an easy 4A-13 win. The Spartans (8-1) have not lost a district game since 2001. Leading 39-12 at halftime, the Spartans kept up the pressure and outscored Bayshore 13-2 in the third quarter.
"The defense was rather good," Spartans coach Dan Wright said. "Our goal coming in was wanting to maintain some intensity."
Mario Telfair had 14 and Sean Morrison 13 to lead the Spartans, who were coming off a second-place finish at the Kingdom of the Sun National Invitational in Ocala.
BOCA CIEGA 86, DIXIE HOLLINS 39: Enoris Sly scored 19 and made three 3-pointers to lead the Pirates to a 5A-10 win.
NORTHEAST 53, PINELLAS PARK 43: The Vikings picked up their second win, outscoring the Patriots 24-8 in the fourth quarter of a 5A-10 game. Wesley Reed scored 15 to lead the Vikings and Sikendrick Payne added 12 to keep Pinellas Park winless.
CLEARWATER 63, DUNEDIN 27: The Tornadoes, coming off a championship at the KSA Holiday Tournament in Orlando, remained Pinellas County's lone unbeaten in a 5A-9 game. Darius Hart scored 19, Trevor Lee 11 and Cruz Daniels 10 in the victory. The Tornadoes (10-0) have a big game against rival and district co-leader Largo on Friday.
KESWICK CHR. 57, CALVARY CHR. 51: R.J. Denton scored 18 and Tony Anderson 17 to lead Keswick in an A-7 contest. The game was tied at halftime before Keswick held Calvary to seven points in the third quarter. Trailing 39-31 heading into the fourth, Calvary rallied behind Andrew Giancola, who scored 11 of his game-high 20, but fell short.
_ Compiled by Times staff writer John C. Cotey. He can be reached at coteysptimes.com.