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Boys 5A-9 hoops: Free throws help Patriots pull it out
Pinellas Park's Jake Troyli goes 10-of-10 to lead his team to the district title against Clearwater.
By Bob Putnam, Times Staff Writer
Published February 10, 2008
PINELLAS PARK - His arm still in the release position, Jake Troyli posed for an extra moment as he swished another free throw against the bewildered Clearwater Tornadoes on Saturday night.
Battling underneath the basket against the county's best frontcourt, Troyli kept drawing fouls and getting to the line.
When he was there, he didn't miss.
Troyli was 10-of-10 on free throws as he helped Pinellas Park knock off Clearwater 38-37 in the Class 5A, District 9 championship game.
"Coach (Allen Carden) stressed hitting our free throws all week in practice," said Troyli, who scored a game-high 19. "I've been perfect from the line before. But never in a game as big as this."
Troyli's clutch shooting helped the Patriots erase a 29-23 deficit at the start of the fourth quarter. Pinellas Park went on a 15-6 run to take a 38-35 lead, highlighted by a Leandris Whiting layup and Troyli's final two free throws.
Clearwater, though, still had a chance. The Tornadoes' Luke Loucks was fouled beyond the 3-point line, giving him three free throws and a chance to tie it.
He hit the first two but missed the final one. The Tornadoes gained possession on a loose ball that went out of bounds. But Clearwater's final shot bounced off the rim.
"This was a slow, grind-it-out game where a field goal was like a touchdown," Carden said. "But our kids persevered."
Both teams could meet again in the region semifinals.