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Tornadoes capitalize on Devils' cold touch

By JOHN C. COTEY, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 16, 2003

CLEARWATER -- If you are still wondering if former St. Petersburg coach Jack Coit left a better team behind when he took over at Clearwater last year, don't.

He didn't.

Taking control in the second quarter with the help of the Green Devils' cold shooting, Clearwater captured the Pinellas County Athletic Conference championship Saturday, winning 55-37 at Jack Wilson Gymnasium.

The North Division champion Tornadoes (25-2) held the South champs without a field goal the last six minutes of the second quarter and scored the last 10 points of the half to pave the way for Coit's first PCAC title since the league adopted the North/South format.

St. Petersburg missed its last nine shots of the half, most of them 3-pointers.

"We never could recover from that," St. Petersburg coach Chris Blackwell said.

"I think our size, it made it hard for them to shoot," said Coit, who coached St. Petersburg the past two seasons and 12 overall in three stints at the school. "We weren't blocking shots, but it's difficult shooting over 6-foot-6 players. And we took away their inside game."

St. Petersburg (19-6) got within five points three times in the third, but Clearwater answered every time. Jacob Loucks scored on a pretty inside move to make it 34-27 and Jon Thomas scored two baskets to close out the quarter. The Green Devils made just 5 of 18 shots in the third and 2 of 15 in the fourth.

"We just couldn't knock one down," Blackwell said. "That was a factor. That was probably the poorest shooting night we have had, and the poorest I expect us to have."

Neither team's leading scorer had much of an impact. St. Petersburg's Deon Troupe had 11 points, seven below his season average, and Clearwater's Nick Miller was in foul trouble all game and had just three, 12 below his average.

But the Tornadoes' depth made the difference. Loucks had a game-high 16, Luke Postorino added 11 and Mike Ferris scored 10 and played great defense.

"Mike Ferris played outstanding," Coit said. "He made some key shots, had some nice rebounds and when he gets those long arms out there, he plays real nice defense."

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