tampabay.com

Boys basketball: Patriots capture PCAC title

By BOB PUTNAM
Published February 2, 2008


ST. PETERSBURG - Pinellas Park's Cam Carden had a few seconds to work some magic.

With his team trailing 36-34, Carden sank a 25-foot 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter to put the Patriots ahead for the first time.

"That was the momentum changer," Carden said.

Ignited by that shot, Pinellas Park dominated Lakewood in the fourth quarter to win 53-44 and claim its first Pinellas County Athletic Conference title.

"The past couple of games, we weren't hitting shots at the end of the quarter like that," Carden said. "I knew once I knocked that one down, we were going to win."

If anyone knows a 3-point opportunity when he sees one, it's Carden. Among the county's top scorers, Carden finished with 21 points, including three 3-pointers. Besides hitting the buzzer-beater in the third quarter, Carden buried a 3-pointer at the start of the fourth to put the Patriots ahead 40-36.

The Spartans 23-2 struggled to find any offensive rhythm the rest of the way.

The Patriots (21-4), meanwhile, remained poised, handling Lakewood's press down the stretch.

"I thought we were calm and took care of the basketball when we needed to," Pinellas Park coach Allen Carden said. "That's something we didn't do the first time we played them (a 59-56 loss to the Spartans last week)."

Besides Cam Carden, Jake Troyli (15 points) and Jesse Woods (12) reached double digits in scoring for the Patriots.

Lakewood was led by Mike Morrison, who scored 12.

Bob Putnam can be reached at (727) 445-4169 or putnam@sptimes.com.