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Lessons learned give lift to Tornadoes

By Times Staff Writers
Published February 20, 2004

CLEARWATER - By playing well in the Pinellas County Athletic Conference title game two weeks ago, Boca Ciega got the attention of Clearwater.

Tornadoes coach Tom Shaneyfelt spent time drawing up a detailed blueprint on how to stop the Pirates and made sure the six-point win his team escaped with in the last meeting was an anomaly.

This time, there were no close calls.

Clearwater (25-2) rolled to a 55-39 victory in the region quarterfinals. Next up for the No.4 state-ranked Tornadoes is a home game against Fort Myers Cypress Lake in Tuesday's region semifinals.

"Boca Ciega's played tough and that last meeting opened our eyes," Shaneyfelt said. "We were not about to take them lightly and spent a full day in practice making sure we were prepared."

After having difficulty penetrating the Pirates' 1-3-1 zone in the conference game, Clearwater adjusted its offense. Instead of settling for jump shots, point guard Nicole Ryan fed the ball to her teammates down low for layups.

That strategy helped the Tornadoes go ahead 30-14 at the half and set the tone.

"I thought we executed much better against their zone and our defense continued to get after people," Shaneyfelt said.

Sitting on a comfortable lead, Clearwater spent the second half divvying up minutes for the team. Instead of relying on the junior backcourt of Nicole Ryan and Rachel Hammond, who combined for 26 points in the conference game, the Tornadoes spread the wealth as nine of 10 players scored.

Ryan still had 16 points, including 11 of 12 free throws, and was the only one who reached double figures in scoring for Clearwater. Tiffany Williams continued on her postseason tear and was the Pirates' leading scorer with 14. Villamarie Binalay was right behind with 11 before fouling out in the fourth.

With the Pirates out of the way, the Tornadoes turn their attention to Cypress Lake, an opponent Shaneyfelt did not expect to face.

Clearwater anticipated playing eighth-ranked Venice in a game that could have been the Tornadoes' biggest road block in advancing to the state tournament for the third straight season. Shaneyfelt had watched Venice twice this season.

"The wheels would have to completely come off for (Venice) not to win and advance," he said.

Apparently, they did.


Packers run out of options

SEMINOLE - Largo thought a zone defense might work against Seminole, but after a couple of 3-pointers by Allie Fogle, it was time for something new.

Largo thought a man-to-man defense would work better, but after a couple of drives to the basket by Chelsea Patterson, it was time for something new.

Actually, there was no time for anything new. By the time Fogle and Patterson finished shredding the Packers defense, the Warhawks had a huge lead and coasted home in a 54-34 win in a region quarterfinal.

The Warhawks (24-3) host Fort Myers in Tuesday's semifinals. It is the second straight year they have advanced past the first round.

Seminole wasted little time putting Largo in a hole, leading 14-6 after the first quarter. It may have delivered the knockout blow to start the second quarter, as Fogle drained two 3-pointers against the zone defense to quickly make it 20-6.

"I thought Allie, with those two 3s, forced them to go back to a different defense," Seminole coach Dave Swanson said. "Those two 3s really helped give us some confidence."

Fogle hit two more shots in the quarter, scoring all 12 of her points in the half.

Patterson took over from there. With Largo playing man to man, the Warhawks let her loose with some high screens as she drove in for three layups and hit a short jumper to start the second half and give Seminole a 35-16 lead.

Patterson finished with a game-high 20 points and scored all 10 Warhawks points in the third quarter.

"We saw some matchups we really liked," Swanson said.

Largo's longest run was five points as the Packers (19-8) struggled offensively against an aggressive defense that effectively centered its attention on pressuring the Packer shooters.

The Packers were led by Ebony Walker and Chelsea Simpson, who each scored 10.

Guard Tish Feazell scored her only points on a 3 that pulled Largo within 37-27 to start the fourth. But Keidra Harvey scored a few seconds later, and C.J. Conley made a basket and three free throws to help fuel a 9-0 run that ended the Packer comeback.

Largo played without Alexis Henry, its best shooter, who missed the game because she suffered a concussion in the district final.


Plant battles illness, but moves on

TAMPA - Four of Plant's top players were fighting colds, and coach Carrie Mahon could not get any more out of them. In the end, after a 49-35 win over Alonso, Mahon was pleased, but still a little concerned about the illness that plagued her team.

"I canceled (today's) practice because I thought we needed time to recuperate," Mahon said. "We were dragging (on Thursday). ... We have to think about getting ready for the next game."

That will be Tuesday in a second round regional at Lake Gibson, which defeated Plant (20-4) by seven in the Craig Keeler Memorial Tournament in December.

Porscha Williamson led Plant with 13 points. Alonso (10-16) was disappointed but not overwhelmed because this is the farthest the 3-year-old school has advanced in girls basketball.


[Last modified February 20, 2004, 01:31:57]


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