Clearwater, Largo earn showdown

Published February 11, 2006

LARGO - Palm Harbor University has done some impressive things this season. The Hurricanes won a school-record 17 games, including two against perennial power Clearwater.

PHU, though, was not able to win the game against the Tornadoes that counted most.

Clearwater settled a couple of old scores with a lopsided new one, dismantling the Hurricanes 71-48 in the Class 5A, District 9 semifinals.

The Tornadoes will play host Largo in tonight's championship game. The Packers cruised to a 58-32 victory over Pinellas Park.

"I don't think we ever really had their number this season," Hurricanes coach Michael Walters said. "Both games that we won were close. This time, we just got totally outplayed. We weren't able to get into any type of rhythm."

Credit that to Clearwater's high-octane defense. After combining for 54 points in a quarterfinal win over Dunedin, PHU's 6-foot-10 playmakers Adam Pegg and A.J. Tyler scored five and 10, respectively, against the Tornadoes.

The transition game paid off, as Clearwater beat its opponent down the floor for easy layups. That helped the Tornadoes take a 16-6 lead at the end of the first quarter and coast from there.

"I think we grew up a little bit," Clearwater coach Jack Coit said. "We came out more aggressive, and I thought we did a good job of pressing and bothering their guards."

Nick Nickerson (16 points), Luke Loucks (15) and Mike Postorino (13) all reached double figures for the Tornadoes.

Largo, the state's top-ranked team in 5A, had some incentive in the other semifinal. The last time the Packers were ranked No. 1 was 2002, when they lost in the district semifinals and failed to make the playoffs.

History didn't repeat as Largo (23-2) built a 27-18 lead at the half and never looked back. Charlie Lytle scored 14 points, and Mike Helm added 13 for the Packers.

3A-11: TC, SPC roll into final

ST. PETERSBURG - The goal for top seeds St. Petersburg Catholic and Tampa Catholic was simple: get a big lead, then rest the starters.

The Barons and Crusaders easily accomplished that as they cruised to victory to set up the final. In the first game at the Meehan Center on SPC's campus, Tampa Catholic had four players score in double figures to overcome an 18-13 first-quarter deficit to crush Clearwater Central Catholic 82-48. Joey Lauteria led the Crusaders with 25 points, followed by Scott Wallace with 20, Matt Dziagna with 17 and E.J. Cicccio with 11.

Justin Morin led the Marauders with 15.

St. Petersburg Catholic followed suit in the nightcap as three players scored in double figures to cruise against Berkeley Prep 69-52. Aaron Holmes came up big once again, scoring 29 points on 11-of-17 shooting and grabbing seven rebounds. Grady Jorgenson went 6-for-9 from the field to add 14 points while Ed Rolax was big inside, going 6-for-8 with two emphatic dunks to score 12.

"When we can have our third option, which is usually Grady or Noah (Cumby), contributing for us, then we can be a dangerous team," said SPC coach Mike Moran. "And, we definitely had that tonight with Grady. But when Aaron gets on a roll like that, I'll admit it, the game definitely becomes a lot easier to coach."

After the first quarter in which the Barons outscored the Buccaneers 13-8, the Barons built a 20-13 lead early in the second. But Berkeley went on a mini-run of 6-0 to close the gap to one, 20-19.

Then Holmes went to work.

The Florida State signee scored 11, hitting all three of his 3-pointers, as the Barons closed the half with a 16-4 run and went into the lockerroom with a 36-23 lead.

Jorgenson helped the Barons increase the lead in the third quarter as the senior guard scored four points and had three assists during a 15-2 run. SPC ended the quarter outscoring the Buccaneers 22-13 to essentially put the game away.

"Coach talked to us about playing solid both on offense and defense and also, controlling the boards and we did that pretty well," said Jorgenson of his team outrebounding the Bucs, 21-8, and shooting better than 50 percent from the field. "It was also important for us, heading into the final and, then regionals, to get all our guys rested."

Pat McLaughlin led the Buccaneers with 14 points on 7-of-11 shooting.

--CHRIS GIRANDOLA, Times correspondent

2A-11: Keswick moves on

LARGO - One more turn of momentum and Indian Rocks Christian would have had it. The clock ran out with Tampa Prep clinging to a lead that was 14 points at one point, taking host IRC 55-52. In the final the Terrapins will face Keswick Christian, which beat Admiral Farragut 70-55.

Barrett Bailey had nine early points and IRC won the first quarter 17-10 before putting Tampa Prep down 12 points minutes into the second quarter, when Terrapin coach Joe Fenlon called a timeout that would eventually swing the game by 26 points. Team defense begot quick chances for Walter Perkins (16 points) and Jake Haslem (12 points) after that. Between halftime, which Tampa Prep led 26-24, and the start of the fourth quarter, Prep (19-7) wound up playing to save a 14-point lead with four minutes left.

Bailey, who led all scorers with 24 points, made two of his five 3-pointers in the final five minutes, scoring 11 points in the fourth quarter. That helped IRC get to within a 3-point try with seconds remaining in a losing effort for the Eagles (16-10).

"We definitely came together there after that timeout," Fenlon said. "We needed to calm down and play our game. We seemed a little out."

Keswick's Tony Anderson made four 3-pointers for a game high 20 points in the Crusaders' late surge over Admiral Farragut. Leading the whole night, Keswick went down a point before the fourth quarter, before pulling away.

--ERIC MUSKATEVC, Times correspondent