Tampa Prep built an impressive lead on Boca Ciega, then withstood a furious second-half rally by the Pirates for a 71-61 win Saturday to capture the Northeast High School Christmas Invitational.
After Juwan Durham's dunk and Andy Fullerton's 3-pointer late in the first half, the Terrapins (14-0) had a 41-14 cushion and it appeared Tampa Prep was on its way to a lopsided win over one of the area's top teams.
Tampa Prep coach Joe Fenlon knew better when cautioning his team of Boca Ciega's firepower at halftime.
"We knew they had a run like that in them; they did the same to Lakewood (Friday) night and blew them away in the second half," Fenlon said.
Just as Fenlon predicted, Boca Ciega (13-2) took it to Tampa Prep for much of the second half, using a suffocating press that Fenlon admitted his team didn't handle well at first.
"We didn't attack the ball," Fenlon said. "Once we did that, we handled their press fine."
Durham's put-back gave Tampa Prep a 55-35 lead midway through the fourth quarter before the Pirates went wild. Riding the shooting of Dallas Moore, who hit a pair of big 3-pointers, Boca Ciega cut the gap to 61-54 with 2:13 left.
But Tampa Prep handled Boca Ciega's pressure well down the stretch and allowed just one Boca Ciega field goal the rest of the way.
"We were real hot to begin with," said Terrapins guard Josh Heath, who was named the tournament's most valuable player. "Boca Ciega is known for causing turnovers and Dallas (Moore) doesn't miss. Things like that happen."