TORNADOES 73 STORM 52

CLEARWATER – If the space is there, be aggressive and take the shot.

That was Clearwater coach Kristopher Foote’s pregame instruction to Xavier Wahr. The senior responded Friday night by draining six 3-pointers and helping lead the Tornadoes to a 73-52 semifinal win over Lakeland Victory Christian.

“He was due for it, too,” Foote said. “I told him after the game last night he has to be more aggressive and look for his shots and he did a great job of that. He’s one of our senior leaders, been through it four years and we don’t expect anything but that from him.”

Wahr caught fire midway through the opening quarter, right as the Tornadoes’ pressure defense began forcing turnovers. The senior guard’s first 3 put Clearwater up for good, 7-5, and four of his long-distance makes came during first quarter.

Clearwater (9-1) got another big night from senior Max Jones, as well. The team’s leading scorer finished with 23 points and seven rebounds a night after dropping 30 during the Tornadoes’ 54-53 win over Sickles.

“Those two guys are both four-year players in this system,” Foote said of Jones and Wahr. “They’ve been through some big games, hard times, tough losses, big wins and they know how to lead; they’re our captains and we expect them to be captains every night.”

Nelson Taylor added 13 points for Clearwater and CJ Lee scored eight while grabbing seven rebounds, six coming off the offensive glass.

The Storm (5-5) were led by senior Jean Arcy’s game-high 24 points.

Clearwater’s aggressive defense forced 21 turnovers and set up a number of large scoring runs, such as the 23-2 outburst in the third that ballooned a 39-32 lead to 62-34 rout.

Friday’s victory puts Clearwater into tomorrow night’s Bash Bracket championship game against Sarasota Booker (3-8). The Tornadoes advanced by beating Hallandale 41-31.

The 3rd Annual Prep Hoops Sun Bash Tournament involves 32 teams divided into two 16-team brackets. Tomorrow’s Bash Bracket championship featuring Booker and Clearwater will tip off at 7 p.m.

The Sun Bracket championship will follow at 8:30 between East Lake (10-0) and Jacksonville Paxon (12-2). East Lake beat Fort Walton Beach Choctawhatchee, 65-51, and Paxon defeated Sanford Seminole, 83-58.

BOX SCORE:

VC – 17 – 10 – 11 – 14 --- 52

CW – 20 – 16 – 26 – 11 --- 73

TOP PERFORMERS:

Lakeland Victory Christrian (5-5)

Jean Arcy – Game-High 24 points, 3 3-pointers

Miguel Santos – 6 points, 12 rebounds

Alekz Szymszyk – 7 points, 4 rebounds

Clearwater (8-1)

Max Jones – 23 points, 7 rebounds

Xavier Wahr – 18 points, 6 3-pointers

Nelson Taylor – 13 points, 3 rebounds

CJ Lee – 8 points, 7 rebounds (6 offensive)