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GULFPORT - The Pirates looked timid on offense and their outside shots suffered because of it. Boca Ciega's uninspired play and chronic poor shooting resulted in a disappointing loss at home as they fell, 57-41, to Clearwater.
"I don't know what kind of result that really shows, because only one team played," Boca Ciega coach Randy Shuman said. "For whatever reason, they did not play with any intensity. They didn't play with any enthusiasm. It's really, really disturbing."
Cruz Daniels, Clearwater's 6-10 center, has a habit of disturbing opponents' shots and the Pirates were no different. Cruz had six blocks, negating the few times the Pirates tried to score inside. Boca Ciega (14-7) missed its first six attempts from beyond the arc as they settled for long-range jump shots. They shot just 10 percent (2 of 20) from three-point territory.
"When you're not shooting outside real well and then Cruz is blocking shots inside, that had a lot do with it," Clearwater coach Jack Coit said of his team's win. "When he's in the middle and playing good defense and blocking shots, that takes away a lot of points."
Daniels also helped Clearwater (21-1) limit Boca Ciega to one-shot possessions with his defensive rebounding despite playing most of the game in foul trouble. In fact, Daniels and Trevor Lee, his frontcourt mate, spent long stints on the bench, but the Pirates never capitalized.
"I don't think we showed up," Shuman said. "It was right there for us to take, but you got to have heart."