WESLEY CHAPEL — Dionte Blanch was smooth and cool and darn near unstoppable Saturday night against Wesley Chapel.
"I felt like the basket was getting bigger and bigger and bigger as the game went on," said Blanch, an East Lake junior. "It got to where I felt like I couldn't miss."
He barely did.
Scoring from everywhere, including six times on slam dunks, Blanch ended with a school-record 39 points in a 75-45 victory where he didn't even play the fourth quarter, which finished with a running clock.
For East Lake (17-4) the whole affair was a surprise because Wesley Chapel came in with a 17-6 record and had beaten some pretty decent teams along the way.
"I really thought this was going to be close," East Lake coach Britt Taylor said of one of the most anticipated games at this year's Ulrich Family Classic at Wiregrass Ranch. "I think we jumped on them really fast (leading 28-6 after the first quarter) and they were shocked a little. When we get going like that we can be pretty tough. We did play well tonight."
The victory sends good vibes into the week for East Lake, which with a victory over Clearwater on Wednesday could end up in the conference championship game against its arch-nemesis, St. Petersburg, which hasn't lost to the Eagles in nearly 10 years.
"We really want that chance to play St. Petersburg again," Blanch said. "We really want to break that (losing streak to the Green Devils)."
Host Wiregrass Ranch rolls
It's been an up-and-down season for Wiregrass Ranch, a sentiment that has often left coach Jeremy Calzone scratching his head to a 12-11 record.
"Some nights we come out and look great and the next night it's like, 'What happened? What is this?'" Calzone said. "Tonight was one of those nights we looked great."
After a tight battle through the first half with Countryside, the Bulls found their groove and pulled away for a comfortable 82-58 victory.
"I think (guard) Tyreek Green really helped because it finally clicked for him tonight," Calzone said. "He played great defense and that got the offense going."
Green finished with a team-high 21 points, followed by Logan Ghoumari (16 points) and Elijah Howell, Jacob McCaslin and Nasir Edmonds, who each had 10 points apiece.
Countryside (8-12) seemed to lose a good deal of momentum in the third quarter when one of its starters, Max Thorpe, left the game with a severely twisted ankle, which got examined by a doctor Saturday night.