SARASOTA - At the start of the season, Clearwater coach Tom Shaneyfelt believed his team would play Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas during the first day of the Girls Roundball Showcase at Sarasota Riverview.
That didn't happen.
Instead of getting a chance to meet the sixth-ranked team in Class 5A, the seventh-ranked Tornadoes faced less-formidable Sarasota.
While the opponent was unexpected, the outcome was predictable.
Clearwater overcame a slow first half and cruised to a 75-48 victory.
The Tornadoes (15-2) gets a stronger test at 5 p.m. today when they play Gainesville P.K. Yonge, No. 6 in 2A.
"For some reason, we came out a little flat," Shaneyfelt said. "We're going to have to play better if we're going to beat (P.K. Yonge)."
The Sailors outscored Clearwater 15-14 in the first quarter and kept the game close throughout the first half thanks to the back-to-the-basket game of Kristin Walding and the slashing of Brittany Crenshaw.
With Walding pounding the paint, Crenshaw was able to run and scored 15 of her team-high 25 during the first half.
Clinging to a 34-28 lead at the half, the Tornadoes broke away in the second as guard Nicole Ryan clamped down on Crenshaw and distributed the ball evenly on offense.
Rachel Hammond (19 points), Danielle Kostacky (15), Karen Braden (14) and Heather Barber (11) reached double digits.
The victory was the Tornadoes' fifth in a row. Their losses have come to Bradenton Southeast and Naples Barron Collier. Clearwater gets a chance avenge the loss to Southeast Jan.24.
"We're always looking to get a chance to test ourselves against ranked teams," Shaneyfelt said. "Hopefully, we'll get to see a few more before the end of the season."Bogie boys put clamps on Seminole
SEMINOLE - Boca Ciega's trapping defense forced Seminole into poor second-half shooting and helped the Pirates win 55-45.
The Pirates forced 16 turnovers and allowed 21 points during the half.
Boca Ciega point guard Mike Culbreth scored 17 points on his birthday, including 10 in the second quarter. Marquel Brooks added 13 points and eight rebounds.
Seminole led by five after the first quarter, but Culbreth and Enoris Sly made consecutive 3-pointers on Boca Ciega's first two possessions of the second quarter. Culbreth and Brooks scored 17 of the Pirates' 21 second-quarter points.
"Mike played consistent, and Marquel had a great all-around game," Boca Ciega coach Bob Medici said.
The Pirates also made 6 of 7 free throws during the first half to lead 27-24.
A 7-0 run to begin the fourth quarter gave Boca Ciega an 11-point lead. The Warhawks pulled within 49-40 on David Crouch's 3-pointer with 2:59 left. But defense and 4-of-6 free-throw shooting helped sealed it.
"We played gutsy and very hard the whole night," Medici said. "And I am proud of our kids."
Garius Goshay led Seminole with 14 points, including two 3-pointers. Crouch and A.J. Comi finished with 11 and 10, respectively.
- CARMINO IMONDI