ST. PETERSBURG — Boca Ciega’s Caleb McCullough sank two free throws with three seconds remaining Friday to give the Pirates a thrilling 52-50 win over St. Petersburg.
The Pirates (4-0) trailed for much of the game, but never by more than a few points. Good rebounding by St. Petersburg at both ends of the court helped keep the Green Devils (3-3) ahead. At the break they held just a one-point advantage. By the end of the third quarter, the Green Devils had stretched their lead to five.
Michael Clark scored Boca Ciega’s first 11 points of the fourth, bringing his team within two with three minutes remaining.
After missing free throws that could have tied the game with about a minute left, the Pirates’ Keon Gray put back the rebound to knot it up at 50.
A St. Petersburg turnover led to a furious finish at the Boca Ciega end of the court and a foul that sent McCullough to the line for the winning points.
Pirates coach Randy Shuman noted his team’s halfcourt offense wasn’t what it should have been for much of the game, and that they struggled on the boards.
But Boca Ciega’s tenacity and some sloppy play by St. Petersburg in the final minutes set the stage for the comeback win.
“These kids got a lot of heart,” Shuman said. “They knew if we could string a few minutes together, we could get the lead.”
Ben Clare led all Green Devils with 12 points. Teammate Terrell Burney was big from the line in the second half, hitting 6-of-6 free-throw attempts.
Clark led all players with 16 points. Three other Pirates scored in double figures.