News-Sun photo by DAN HOEHNE Tyrone Perry found a rare clear path to the hoop to score on this floater Thursday night.
published: Sunday, February 17, 2013
Devils drubbed, season ends
By DAN HOEHNE
AVON PARK - "This is playoff basketball, you win or your season is done," Avon Park first-year head coach Marty O'Hora said after Thursday's 75-38 Tampa Catholic win ended his squad's season in the Class 4A Regional Quarterfinals. "If you don't play smart from the start, a team like this is going to bury you, fast."
Which is pretty much how it played out in the Red Devil gym as some big-stage jitters paved the way to a number of early mistakes, and Crusader scores.
"We played a little scared and had 12 turnovers in the first half," O'Hora said. "And about 10 of those were right near midcourt, which Tampa Catholic turned into points."
Alfred Brown had four points in the opening quarter, but Avon Park only managed another jumper from Tyrone Perry and two Steven Roberts free throws.
Tampa's Isiah Thomas, meanwhile, scored nine on his own over the opening eight minutes, and Chivarsky Corbett added seven to stake the visitors to a 19-8 lead.
Perry would open the second-quarter scoring with a floater from the left, though Crusader guard Thomas Dziagwa answered it with a three.
Sam Harris then hit a jumper for Tampa Catholic, and Roberts hit two at the line to help keep Avon Park within relative reach.
Thomas added to his scoring total with a trey, but Perry got those points back with a free throw and a score off of a Recarus Burley steal to make it a 27-15 game.
But that would be as close as the Devils would be the rest of the night.
The Crusaders would soon blow it open, scoring the rest of the points before the break, 13 in all, to take a 40-15 lead at halftime.
The scoring run extended to 20, with Tampa opening the third with seven straight, before Brown got the Devils back on the board with a drive.
Corbett would score the next two buckets however, and the Crusaders lead 51-17.
"We only had one starter back from last year's team, so this was the first experience with this sort of pressure for a lot of these guys," O'Hora said. "It wasn't until midway through the third that they were able to get into it and start playing well."
They did pick it up at that point, matching Tampa over the rest of the quarter, with 11 points apiece.
But it did little to actually get them back in the game.
A 7-1 tilt to open the fourth pushed the lead to an even 40 and got the running clock started on it's trek toward the inevitable.
Though Avon Park did get a couple of highlights down the stretch with Jovan Pratt elevating for an impressive tip-in and Travis Lawton exploding on a break for a throw-down dunk that gave the home crowd a shot of excitement.
"It's a tough way to end the season, but we had a lot of positive during this season," O'Hora said. "We won district, went undefeated in the district during the season and were really able to turn a lot of things around within the team.
"We're losing a couple of seniors, but we'll pretty much have everyone back," he continued. "I told them to take some time off, get basketball off their minds for the next couple of weeks. Then we'll start getting back into it, get ready for summer ball and work to take another step next year."
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