Ferocious. That describes the way the Lely basketball team beat up on Clewiston for a 75-62 win on Tuesday.
The win makes them part of the Elite 8 in the State Class 4A Championship race.
Marco’s Christian Tateo was the driver of a Lely machine that played three of its best quarters of the season.
At that point the Trojans were up 57-39. The fourth quarter got sloppy, partly because Lely center Parker Ayers was oh the bench with four fouls. When he did come in at the four-minute mark he only lasted a minute before fouling out.
However by then he had racked up 20 points, scoring 11 in the first half, adding seven rebounds and two blocked shots.
Clewiston tried full-court pressure for much of the game, but Tateo was up to the task as point guard, dribbling by and threw the defense to get the ball where Lely controlled offensively.
For the night Tateo only had two turnovers, while scoring eight points.
“My job was to not get trapped and get the ball past half court to set up plays,” Tateo said. “They were very strong and athletic, but my job was to not turn the ball over.”
Coach Don Stewart said, “Tateo did an outstanding job. Clewiston thrived on turnovers in their win over Golden Gate. We took good care of the ball and got good percentage shots.”
Something Lely, 19-7, will have to do against Bartow, 21-6, who downed Lakeland-Kathleen, 71-54.
Lely’s hosts Bartow in the 4A-Region 3 championship game at 7 p.m. on Saturday. A win will give Lely a spot in the final four, playing at Lakeland next weekend.
“Bartow has a couple of big guys and they play with great intensity,” said Stewart.
“The key for us will be rebounding, particularly on our offensive boards, so that they can’t get out and go (for easy fats-break points).”
Lely controlled the tempo against Clewiston, outrebounding them 23-8 in the first half and 38-20 overall.
The Trojans put on a fall-back zone defense, making Clewiston shoot from outside. Normally a good outside shooting team, Clewiston was just 6-for-28 in the first half, while Lely dropped in 15 of 27 shots.
Marco’s Brandon Love continued to play a strong game on defense, while contributing 11 points on offense. Dennis Marcelin had five turnovers but made key plays when the Trojans needed them and scored 10 points.
Marco’s Zach Hornsby played “Mr. Clutch” when Clewiston rallied to within 11 points in the final quarter. Horsnby made a driving jump shot and then sank two foul shots to halt a Clewiston rally. For the night, Hornsby scored 19 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.
The win was Lely’s seventh straight.
“I told these guys since the beginning that I had a vision of how I see them playing winning basketball,” Stewart said. “We have had the pieces and we put the puzzle together in the last seven games.”