PALMETTO -- Palmetto came out Tuesday with a focus on defense.
It was easy to tell because the Tigers stifled Braden River all night.
Palmetto (6-1, 1-1 Class 7A-District 10) held the Pirates (3-3) to just 13 first-half points on their way to a 54-38 win.
"They executed on defense so well tonight; they are a very good team," Pirates head coach Matt Nesser said.
Never miss a local story.
The mistakes hurt Braden River, contributing to a four-point second quarter.
A perfect example came late in the first half. The Pirates turned the ball over on a full-court pass with 1.2 seconds remaining before the intermission.
Palmetto's Dequari Kirce capitalized, hitting a floater off an inbounds pass at the buzzer.
Zechariah Kendall scored 10 of his team-high 12 points for the Pirates in the first half.
After giving up only 13 points in the first two quarters, Palmetto allowed Braden River back in the game with 14 points in the third.
"I felt like we actually got better on defense as the game continued," Tigers head coach Reggie Bellamy said.
Jarrid Rhodes hit a jumper with a just less than six minutes left in the fourth to give the Tigers a 44-27 lead.
Braden answered right back with a 6-2 run, cutting the deficit to 46-33 with 3:27 left in the game.
However, it was too little, too late.
Palmetto point guard Dearius Washington finished with a strong layup off the glass.
On the following possession, Washington drew a foul, giving him two free throw attempts and closing out the game for his team.
"Dearius was outstanding tonight, just controlling the game for our guys; he managed the game so well," Bellamy said.
The Tigers pushed the lead back up to 19 with their bench and full-court press.
Jordan Young led the Tigers with 17 points and had nine rebounds, but the team had nine players who got on the board.
Stepvon Saunders added 14 rebounds, and Brandon Drake had nine points and three steals, and Terry Collins contributed eight points and five rebounds.
"It speaks volumes of our depth; our bench played well tonight," Bellamy said.