BRADENTON -- Antonio Blakeney doesn’t look like a freshman, doesn’t play like one and certainly doesn’t act like one on the basketball court.
The Cardinal Mooney ninth-grader wants the ball in crunch time and has no fear.
He proved that when he caught in an inbound pass above the rim and stayed afloat while dropping it in the basket as the buzzer sounded to give the Cougars a 70-68 double-overtime victory over Pinellas Park to kick off the Smoothie King Classic on Tuesday at Bradenton Christian.
“The coach called a play for me to finish at the rim and go up and put it in and that’s what I did,” the 6-2 Blakeney said. “I want the ball in those situations and am not afraid to put the game in my hands. This is my first game-winner for Mooney. I am just glad I was able to get the win for the team.”
Cardinal Mooney had the ball under its basket after a time out with 2.2 seconds left and tossed the ball up to Blakeley. He caught it in the air and remained airborne while several defenders couldn’t stay up with him and giving him a clean look.
“He is going to be a pretty good player. In fact, he is already a pretty good player,” Mooney head coach Stefan Gates said. “We saw the middle was open and hadn’t gone there yet. When the opportunity presented itself, we wanted to take advantage of it. Antonio is not afraid to take the big shot. He has a lot of confidence like most good players.”
It was the seventh straight victory for the Cougars (10-1), whose only loss is to Braden River. Cardinal Mooney looked as if it was going to suffer its second defeat when Pinellas Park (5-7) broke a 37-37 deadlock and went on an 11-1 run to take a 48-38 with 6:11 remaining in regulation.
Cardinal Mooney didn’t get the lead back until Parker Del Medico converted two free throws with 36 seconds left. He added another from the charity stripe with 15 seconds on the clock for a 54-52 lead, but Brandon Espiras had a layup with six seconds left to send the game into overtime
Blakeley knocked down two free throws with 1:42 to give Mooney at 60-58 lead with 1:42 left in the first overtime, but Espiras tied the game on two foul shots with 50 seconds left and the Cougars couldn’t connect on their last shot.
Corey Edwards drained a trey to give the Patriots a 68-66 lead with 32 seconds left in the second overtime. Jamie Glasser tied it at 68 when he converted two free throws with 22 seconds left.
“It says a lot about our character that we were able to fight through adversity when we were down by 10,” Gates said. “Pinellas Park is a nice team. They are quick and athletic and made some shots early in the game. We dug ourselves into a hole, but our guys never gave up. We came in here expecting to win and that’s exactly what we did.”
Blakeley (18), Glasser (20) and Del Medico (19) combined for 57 points. Blakeney scored six points in overtime and Glasser had eight, including six in the second overtime when he nailed a 3-pointer and had another 3-point play the old fashioned way when he drove in for layup and converted a free throw.
Del Medico led Mooney with six rebounds and six steals and dished out four assists. Blakeley had four rebounds, two steals and one assist.
TAMPA PREP 82, BAYSHORE 46 -- Tampa Prep (12-0), the tournament’s only undefeated team, was no match for Bayshore (3-8) jumping out to 16 point first quarter lead enroute to an 82-46 trouncing over the Bruins. The Terrapins had 10 players score led by Devontae Morgan with 14. David Scavella led Bayshore with 21 points and Wesley Jackson had 11 for the Bruins only double figure scorers. The game went to a running clock with 4:06 left in the third quarter.
LENNARD 80, LAKEWOOD RANCH 70 -- The Mustangs (1-10) gave it a gallant effort, but fell short in overtime to Ruskin Lennard (4-3), who scored the first 11 points of overtime to break a 64-64 deadlock and coast to the win. Chaz Grady led the Mustangs with 212 points. Quinn Thomas added 16, and T.J. Bridges contributed 12. Caelan Watts and Darian Davis had 23 points apiece for Lennard.
BRADENTON CHRISTIAN 64, COMMUNITY CHRISTIAN ACADEMY 42 -- Nick Schiemann scored 19 points and pulled down eight rebounds to lead the Panthers, who proved their record to 6-3. Other double-figure scorers for the Panthers were Coleman Barber and transfer Landen Hochstetler, who scored 10 points apiece. Brenden Drazowski scored 20 points to lead Community Christian Academy (5-5).