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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
PINELLAS PARK - Sure, Clearwater coach Jack Coit says: there were adjustments made, defenses switched, different aspects stressed all week at practice.
But ultimately, he said, the Tornadoes' 45-44 victory Friday night against Pinellas Park came down to a few simple things:
Fourth chances, even.
"Offensive rebounds had everything to do with it," Coit said. "I mean, what did we win the game on? An offensive putback."
Playing with more aggressiveness than they did in a 60-54 loss to Pinellas Park 10 days ago, the Tornadoes (17-2) crashed the boards and crashed the party at the Pinellas Park gym, which had roughly 1,500 fans on hand, one of the biggest crowds there since the Patriots (17-3) were state contenders back in the early 1990s.
It was Okaro White's rebound and score with 46 seconds left that provided the winner, though it was his defense all game that positioned the Tornadoes for victory.
Matched up on Pinellas Park's leading scorer Cam Carden, White held the senior to 10 points and zero 3-pointers. One of Carden's baskets, a short runner that White was questionably called for goaltending, made it 42-41 late, and two free throws from Jake Troyli upped the lead to 44-41 with 1:57 remaining.
White answered with a basket inside a few seconds later, and after Troyli missed, then fouled out, the Tornadoes went strong to the hoops for the winner.
Adam Pegg missed a shot down low, White failed on a tip-in, the ball came out to Sean O'Brien in the corner and his shot bounced off the rim, but right into White's hands.
He made sure his second try went in.
Pinellas Park, which is now tied with Clearwater for the Class 5A, District 9 lead, had one last chance to win. Carden went baseline and tried to draw a foul but none was called and Pegg corralled the final rebound as the buzzer sounded.