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Games to watch
Pinellas Park at Palm Harbor U.
WHEN: Tonight, 7:30
OUTLOOK: In Class 5A, District 9, the line of demarcation is clear -- there's Clearwater and Largo, then everyone else. But in the latter category, the Patriots and Hurricanes will compete for No. 1. Pinellas Park has a better record (7-2), but PHU (4-7) has faced tougher competition. Pinellas Park claimed the first round between the teams, 59-50 at home earlier this month.
WHEN: Tonight, 7:30
OUTLOOK: Can either of these teams get over the hump? Lakewood started 0-4, came back with four wins, then was blasted 85-28 by Bradenton Southeast last Friday. A win Tuesday against Osceola returned the Spartans to .500. Dixie is recovering from a brutal stretch last week that included games against Largo, Boca Ciega and Seminole in a four-day stretch. The Rebels lost all three, meaning a win here would be a nice confidence-booster going into the holidays.
With last week's ranking in parenthesis
1. (1) Clearwater (11-0) -- Two more 50-point routs against county foes. Tough holiday competition ahead.
2. (2) Seminole (10-1) -- Defense holding opponents to 38 points per game during nine-game win streak.
3. (4) Largo (7-1) -- Takes care of business against pesky Gibbs, East Lake, Palm Harbor U.
4. (5) St. Petersburg Catholic (8-2) -- Win against Sarasota Cardinal Mooney means inside track to top district seed.
5. (3) Boca Ciega (9-2) -- Gibbs wins on Pirates' floor despite starting 0-for-25 from the field.
6. (6) Dixie Hollins (5-4) -- Fell short at Boca Ciega, 58-46; PCAC South Division title likely out of reach.
7. (NR) Shorecrest (7-2) -- Will get tested during holidays at Academy of the Holy Names Craig Keeler Tournament in Tampa.
Clearwater students don't have exams until after the holidays, but Tornadoes players will be taking plenty of tests during their school break.
"Our midterms are coming up," coach Tom Shaneyfelt said.
At 11-0, Clearwater has risen to No. 2 in the Class 5A state poll, winning big against county foes ill-equipped to hang with the team's stable of young players, much less established stars such as Dominique Redding and Kasie Muchler. But this Friday at Gainesville Buchholz (No. 10 in 5A), next week at the Hooters Holiday Shootout in St. Petersburg and at the Karp Klassic on Jan. 2-5 in Sarasota, the team's true strength will be tested.
In the Hooters tournament, the Tornadoes will get their first look at a hungry Seminole team, and if they pass that test, either Miami Miramar or Boca Ciega will be next. At the Karp, the field is loaded with eight state-ranked teams. "We're real happy to have these games coming up, win or lose we're going to be better because of them," said Shaneyfelt, almost pleased at the thought of taking on a midseason loss.
Clearwater faces Cocoa Beach on Jan. 2 in the Karp's first round, and a win would likely lead to a showdown with 6A No. 2 Miami Senior. Further down the bracket could also be a game against Southeast, which Clearwater beat last year in overtime in the Hooters final.
The Times publishes girls basketball statistics Thursdays throughout the regular season. Coaches are encouraged to send stats to John Schwarb by fax (727) 445-4119 or e-mail
firstname.lastname@example.org. They may also be phoned in at (727) 445-4170. Stats must be submitted no later than noon Wednesday.