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Tornadoes blow away East Lake

© St. Petersburg Times
published February 17, 2002

LARGO -- It was a packed gym for a district final, "Postorino" was being called from the P.A. announcers, and they even went to Capogna's Dugout after the game.

The faces are different, but the story remains the same for Clearwater. It rolled to a 52-35 win over East Lake (13-12) for the district title.

"We got knocked out in our first game last year," Tornadoes coach Rudy Coffin.

Add on that this is Coffin's last year as head coach, and that might explain why the championship and regional tournament berth are special for the program, which had a couple of absent years in the postseason. Second-seeded East Lake ran out to a marginal lead early in the first quarter, sparked by back-to-back Greg Cummings 3-pointers.

But shortly after play began in the second quarter, Clearwater got hot. An 8-0 run, paused by a 7 minute delay to clean the court from Cummings' blood, and a 12-0 spree to end the first half put the Tornadoes up 31-18 at the break. Clearwater never looked back.

"We wanted to give them a bad shot, with a hand in their face, then get the rebound," Coffin said.

Rebound Clearwater did. Fifteen offensive boards gave the Tornadoes the edge. Cummings (13 points, three rebounds), the Eagles' inside threat, was pestered throughout the game by a combination of Clearwater big-men, including Nick Miller (13 points, 11 rebounds).

Luke Postorino stepped out of the shadows of older brother and Clearwater alum Josh, tying the game-high with 13 points and posting 4 steals and 6 assists. Dalen Cuff produced eight points and four rebounds.

Clearwater (16-11) will play host to a regional quarterfinal this week. East Lake will travel.

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