Nail Biting 77-80 Finish for Boys Varsity Basketball against Southeast Seminoles

Nail Biting 77-80 Finish for Boys Varsity Basketball against Southeast Seminoles

22nd February 2022: The Green Devils Boys Varsity Basketball faced off with the Bradenton Southeast Seminoles in their Division 5A regional semi-finals. The team made it into the 8 team final bracket to go to states, but it was not without a serious challenge. 


Saint Pete opened strong, going up 10-4 in the 1st period, and continued to widen their gap throughout the 1st half. Southeast, however, started to show early where they would be for the majority of the game – successful under the hoop. The Seminoles drew multiple fouls and were successful with rebounds throughout the 1st, ending it down 13 to 18. And while there were gleems of success from Dylan Kramer being successful as ever with rebounds, small gaps in the defense and missed opportunities when Saint Pete players had distance foreshadowed the troubles to come. 

In the 2nd period, great passing, assists and layups raked Saint Pete in more points, but for every score, Southeast was able to counter. #3 on Southeast, Karmani Gregory, made mincemeat of Saint Pete when charging down the court on the Semionle’s lightnigh-fast transitions. While he was consistently getting the ball and driving to the basket for Southeast, Saint Pete players like Sam Ducksworth and Tristan Gross continued to grow their totals with their eurosteps and three pointers, respectively. In addition, whenever Saint Pete could slow down the transitions, Southeast had a big problem getting through the defense. During the final minutes, Saint Pete made great use of the fouls against them, running up 5 plus points from free throws to grow their lead to 22-38 with roughly a minute left. A last second foul by Southeast put St. Pete up 22-39 with 0.3 seconds left, and after a failed cross court hurl the teams headed to the locker room. Coach Blackwell, when asked how the tram could stop or slow the speedy transitions of the Seminoles, detailed that the team needed to “play with intensity, play with good defense” and to keep doing what they had practiced. It was clear going into halftime that the Green Devils could not let cracks form in the defense, and that if they did, the speed of Southeast would make them pay. 


While the opening minute resulted in a sweet steal by Tristian Gross and a three pointer, Coach Blackwell seemed wholly unsatisfied with the defense in the opening two minutes. Then, the turnover started. Southeast, with beautiful play designs and sloppy turnovers by Saint Pete, started to make a real rhythm. Despite the efforts of players like Nick Armstrong and his blocks at the rim, the rebounding of the Seminoles allowed them to keep getting 2 and closing the gap with the Green Devils. Blackwell, who called a timeout at 4:03, after giving a heated motivational speech, could be overheard calling out the “selfish” drives being made by players trying to drive too quickly down the court. Southeast continued their rocket transitions, and climbed by 7 in a 20 second span. By this point, the Southeast crowd, who had more cheerleaders and seemingly fans present than Saint Pete, became ecstatic, and the atmosphere of the Devils Den had shifted 4 gears in 4 seconds. A steal and dunk by Southeast brought the noise to a maximum for the night, and the score to 41-49, with St. Pete continued to lead, but seemingly demoralized. To end the period, Saint Pete and Southeast traded eclectic three pointers, and a foul by the Seminoles gave Saint Pete an extra 2 from free throws to end the period 46 to 56 with one period remaining.


Into the 4th, the game was open to both teams. Despite the 10 point lead, it was clear the Seminoles had the momentum. Marquis Curry Jr. had heads up plays and good drives down the court, and the frequent threat Derrick Mitchell drew plenty of attention from the Southeast defense. This was not enough to galvanize the Saint Pete defense into action, and they continued to leave gaps the Seminoles had no problems taking advantage of. Turnovers continued to hinder the Green Devils, and the Saint Pete crowd was becoming visibly frustrated. Coach Blackwell called a timeout at 4:49, with Saint Pete still up 10, 53-63, following two made Green Devil free throws. The Seminoles repeated a now very similar sight; steals, rebounds and fast transitions helped them close the gap, but Saint Pete, and Dylan Kramer in particular under the net, would not go down without a fight. At 2:30 the score was 60-69, but soon after the Seminoles had made the game two threes away with 1:41, 65-71, with Saint Pete still leading. At this point, the lack of defense was going to be the singled out reason Saint Pete would lose the game. The final minute saw Southside continue to close the gap, with free throws and rebound layups bringing both teams to 70-75 with 45 seconds remaining. From this point on, the Seminoles played hard and fast as ever, but their continued fouls against Saint Pete didn’t allow them to claw back. Then, at 4.7 seconds, the Seminoles nailed a three to bring it to 77-80, but Saint Pete closed out the game with possession of the ball and free throws to boot, neither of which they could convert. The game ended at the score set with 4 seconds left, 77-80, with Saint Petersburg advancing to the finals. 


Coach Blackwell, although insisting the mistakes Saint Pete made on defense and in transition, has some work to do before facing the Barron Collier Cougars. Although possessing a worse record, the Cougars have been putting up significantly more points per game than the Green Devils, by a margin more than 10 per average. Players like Yvens Paul, the 6’7 senior, who outranks our Saint Pete players in rebounds and blocks individually, will be a particular problem for the team to overcome, in addition to their harder starts on average. Our Green Devils have made it this far, and hopefully, can close it out in the finals, at home, on Friday the 25th.