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Boca Ciega hangs on in seesaw battle

CHRIS GIRANDOLA
Published January 14, 2005

ST. PETERSBURG - At the end of the first quarter in the battle between Boca Ciega and Indian Rocks Christian, it seemed as if the scoreboard should have read "Williams vs. Gattuso." The backcourt duo of Ashley and Tiffany Williams - no relation - had scored 10 of the Pirates' 13, while the Gattuso sisters had compiled all but two of the Golden Eagles' 16.

Then Tashira Copeland entered the picture. The Bogie forward scored six of her 13 in the second quarter to help the Pirates defeat their Class 2A neighbor 61-57 Thursday night, the fifth win in a row for the county's third-ranked team.

The Golden Eagles (11-3) took a three-point lead in the first on 12 points from county scoring leader Gabby Gattuso. The forward kept receiving entry passes from her sister, Mo, and fought hard for her points.

"Our philosophy was to make Gabby work for her shot, but not completely focus all our attention on her," Bogie coach William White said. "We weren't going to allow other players, like her sister, beat us."

In the second quarter, the Williams backcourt picked up the pace and got Copeland involved. After Tiffany and Ashley scored eight straight, the Golden Eagles clamped down on them, but Copeland stepped up and sank three straight baskets. Her jumper from the wing culminated a 14-point Pirates run and gave Bogie (10-4) a 27-16 lead.

Bogie forwards Whitney Newton and Hanna Stenfors denied Gabby Gattuso, who finished with 34 points, for most of the quarter; a follow basket with 1:45 left in the half was her only score of the quarter. Amanda Panty's 3-pointer at the buzzer cut the deficit to seven.

The Gattuso sisters came out determined in the third quarter, as Gabby scored eight straight and Mo followed with two to give Indian Rocks their last lead three minutes into the half, 28-27. Copeland made a 3 from the top of the key to give the Pirates the lead again.

The teams traded baskets the rest of the half. The Gattuso sisters worked together as Mo flashed to the high post and dished to Gabby or pulled up for a jumper. Tiffany Williams picked up her game as well, scoring the Pirates' last eight of the quarter, including a 22-foot 3-pointer at the buzzer.

In the fourth, Newton came up big as she blocked Gabby twice early, both times leading to Bogie baskets. The second block led to a fastbreak basket by Ashley Williams and opened a nine-point lead.

The Golden Eagles fought back to 54-53 with 3-pointers by Panty and Kelsey Evans, but four straight points by the Williamses around another Newton block on Gabby sealed it.

"Even though we lost, I think we proved we belong with the elite in the county," coach Phil Farver said.

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