Girls basketball: Pirates grab close one for district win

By Mike Camunas
Published January 9, 2008

GULFPORT - It's the same every time - always intense.

In its longtime Southside rivalry and Class 5A, District 11 matchup against Lakewood on Tuesday night, Boca Ciega used a timely run to keep its district record unblemished, pulling off a 51-46 win.

"This rivalry is unbelievable," Pirates coach Will White said. "It's probably one of the best in Pinellas County. Every game is always decided by a couple of points."

The Pirates (18-2, 9-0) defeated the Spartans (14-7, 7-2) earlier this season, 52-48 on Nov. 27.

Down 24-19 entering the third quarter, Lakewood extended that lead to eight. Boca Ciega countered behind guard Tory Stephens, who had a game-high 18 points, and fellow guard Tamara Taylor, who added 14. The Pirates went on a 9-2 run late in the third to go ahead 35-33.

But tied at 46 with less than a minute remaining, Boca Ciega got a remarkable steal, allowing Taylor the go-ahead layup and a lead the Pirates wouldn't relinquish.

"No matter what the records are, this is a Southside rivalry - it always will be and always has been," Lakewood coach Necole Tunsil said. "We need to continue to fight because we'll see them again in districts."

The Spartans were led by forward Kerah Nelson, who had 15 points and shot 4-of-14 overall. Lakewood, though, was a dismal 2-of-19 from 3-point range.

"It's something we've been working on and getting better at," Tunsil said of the 3-point shooting. "They pretty much dared us to shoot from the outside. ... We knocked some down, but not enough."