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St. Petersburg Catholic rallies once to force overtime. But it can't do it a second time in falling to Boca Raton St. Andrew's 53-42.
By BOB PUTNAM
Published March 2, 2006
LAKELAND - St. Petersburg Catholic had seemingly filled its quota of Houdini acts this season.
Already during the postseason, the Barons rallied to knock off top-ranked Melbourne Florida Air Academy in double overtime and held off Fort Myers Bishop Verot in overtime.
On Wednesday, the Barons were about to pull off yet another thriller.
Trailing for most of its Class 3A state semifinal game, SPC rallied to force a 40-40 tie against Boca Raton St. Andrew's and had the ball with a chance for the winning shot at the end of regulation.
But in milking the final 1:30 off the clock, the Barons turned the ball over, and the game went into overtime.
This time, though, SPC couldn't escape.
Playing without Aaron Holmes and Ed Rolax, both of who fouled out in the fourth quarter, the Barons watched as the Scots scored the first two field goals.
SPC never recovered and lost 53-42.
"The toughest thing is having to say goodbye to this group," Barons coach Mike Moran said. "We're graduating seven guys who have won 100 games over the last four years.
"You want it to end a different way. We just couldn't get over the hump."
The biggest reason SPC played catch-up for most of the game was poor shooting. The Barons shot 13 percent (3-of-22) in the first half and fell behind 13-0.
"You're not going to win a lot of games shooting 13 percent," Moran said.
"It couldn't be more of a nightmarish start. We were starting to wonder if we would ever score."
SPC's first points came on a Holmes layup with 1:43 left in the first quarter. That helped, but it wasn't enough for the Barons to make a significant dent in the deficit, and they trailed 23-12 at the half.
Then things changed. Ignited by Holmes, Grady Jorgensen and Noah Cumby, SPC (27-3) outscored St. Andrew's 13-6 in the third quarter.
"We basically did what we could to make things happen," Cumby said.
"We made a pretty good comeback against a pretty good team."
The Barons' ability to complete the comeback was hampered with Holmes and Rolax in foul trouble.
Holmes, a Florida State recruit and the Times All-Suncoast Player of the Year the past two seasons, fouled out with five minutes remaining. He ended with 12 points.
"I was pretty upset with myself," Holmes said. "It was hard for me to watch the rest of the game."
Things got worse when Rolax, SPC's biggest inside presence, fouled out with 1:42 left.
"After I picked up a few fouls, I was pretty tentative the rest of the way," Rolax said.
"They were calling ticky-tack fouls and letting a lot of other stuff go."
Still, the Barons had chances.
Before Rolax fouled out, he scored on a layup to give SPC its first lead of the game, 40-39. St. Andrew's then scored on a free throw to tie it. That set up the game-ending dramatics.
"We were basically trying to spread the ball and work for the final shot," Moran said. "It didn't work out the way we wanted. Going into overtime, I knew our chances were not great, especially with Aaron and Ed not on the floor.
"We just have to keep our heads up and know that we had a great season."