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PINELLAS PARK - Yes, Pinellas Park is for real. But for one night, Palm Harbor U. was better.
A.J. Tyler hit a turnaround jumper from the baseline with three seconds left Thursday night to give the Hurricanes its first win of the season, 64-62.
After a Patriots miss, the Hurricanes quickly worked the ball upcourt, and junior Sam Moroff found Tyler, who had 25 points, 18 rebounds and five blocks, for the win.
"We practice that play a lot," said Tyler, who has committed to Clemson. "We actually practiced it a few times (Wednesday)."
Despite PHU's win, it was the play of Pinellas Park that captured more attention. The Hurricanes feature two 6-foot-10 players, Tyler and sophomore Adam Pegg, 5 inches taller than the Patriots' tallest player, Rade Jankovic. The Hurricanes also have touted point guard Jordan Fair, who transferred from Oldsmar Christian, and Moroff, a sharpshooter.
Pinellas Park (2-1), playing its third game in four days, used defensive pressure to take an early 15-6 lead, forcing several turnovers. Sophomore guard Cam Carden (23 points, eight rebounds, six assists) made two 3-pointers during the run. After a timeout, though, the Hurricanes made adjustments and ended the quarter with a 9-0 run.
"We kind of took them for granted," said Moroff, who scored five of his 14 points during the run. "Coach told us to start playing hard and to stop making so many mental errors."
The Hurricanes began taking advantage of their height and led 43-34 at halftime as Tyler and Pegg combined to score 21 of PHU's 28 second-quarter points.
"It's early, so we're getting used to playing with each other," Tyler said. "Our chemistry will get better and better as the season goes along."
That chemistry seemed to fall apart a bit in the third as Pinellas Park, behind Carden's seven points, outscored PHU 17-8 to tie the score at 51.
In the fourth, Moroff's denial defense on Carden forced Pinellas Park into turnovers, which PHU converted into easy scores. With 3:30 left, Pegg's free throw gave PHU a 62-55 lead. But Carden's two free throws and Jankovic's three-point play cut it to two. Pinellas Park forced a turnover, and Carden made a fullcourt pass to sophomore forward Jesse Woods, tied it with 30 seconds left. The Patriots forced another turnover, but James Smith missed a jumper, setting up Tyler's winner.