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No. 2 Clearwater suffers first loss of season

By JOHN SCHWARB, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 6, 2002


SARASOTA -- Finally, at the end of a holiday schedule filled with state-ranked competition, Clearwater found some real competition Saturday night in the final of the Karp Classic.

SARASOTA -- Finally, at the end of a holiday schedule filled with state-ranked competition, Clearwater found some real competition Saturday night in the final of the Karp Classic.

Behind a relentless performance on the offensive boards and a showcase effort from tournament MVP Francine Houston, Bradenton Southeast prevailed 57-53 at Sarasota High to hand Clearwater its first loss. Clearwater (17-1, ranked No. 2 in 5A) held a four-point halftime lead, but couldn't extend it. Instead, Southeast roared back with 16 points in the third quarter, including six consecutive to close.

The Tornadoes came from seven down to tie the game at 48 with 2 minutes, 26 seconds to play on a fast-break layup from Kasie Muchler, but Houston answered with a drive, hitting and drawing a foul. The three-point play gave the Seminoles a 51-48 lead, and after Nicole Ryan missed a layup for Clearwater, Southeast got to the free-throw line to build a two-possession lead it never relinquished.

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