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Boys 5A9 hoops: Tornadoes defense comes up big in rout

By Chris Girandola
Published February 9, 2008


PINELLAS PARK - Defense.

It's stressed time and time again by coaches.

When Clearwater visited Largo a few weeks ago, defense was far removed as the Tornadoes gave up their most points of the season in a 90-75 win.

On Friday, Clearwater demonstrated that a week's worth of defensive focus in practice had paid off as it rolled to a 75-45 win over Largo in the Class 5A, District 9 semifinals.

"Coach (Jack Coit) was the most upset he's been at us all season after that last game," said Clearwater senior guard Luke Loucks, who scored 12 and had six steals. "We worked on our halfcourt trap defense, and it showed during the second quarter. It's something we'll have to keep up if we want to keep advancing."

The Tornadoes held a 13-10 lead after the first quarter but used a 13-0 spurt midway through the second quarter thanks to steals and easy baskets. Clearwater (22-3) had six players score during the quarter and took a 37-24 lead into halftime.

"We were impressive towards the end of the first half and at the start of the second," Coit said. "It's easy to see how good we can be when we play defense like that."

The Tornadoes outscored the Packers 23-13 in the third quarter and cruised to victory as all five starters finished the game in double figures.

Clearwater forward Okaro White led the Tornadoes with a game-high 21 points.

The Tornadoes face Pinellas Park in the final after the Patriots (24-4) rolled to a 76-59 win over East Lake. It will be the third meeting for the two teams after both split their regular-season contests.

Cam Carden had a game-high 25 points, including five 3-pointers, and Jake Troyli finished with 20 points and 14 rebounds for the Patriots, who advance to the district final for the first time since 1991.