PALMETTO -- Tre Clark provides a nice cushion for the Palmetto High boys basketball team.
When things are going wrong, he can keep his teammates in the game and then put the opponent away as he showed Friday night in the Tigers' 79-55, Class 7A-District 11 victory over visiting Braden River.
Palmetto struggled in the first half with 10 turnovers, played poorly on defense and didn't get back quick enough in the transition game.
But the Tigers led 38-26 at intermission thanks to Clark, who scored 14 first-half points, knocking down 4 of 5 attempts from beyond the arc.
The 6-foot-4 guard finished with 26 points. He drained 6 of 9 treys and converted 9 of 15 shots overall while playing a little more than three quarters.
"Coach (Reggie) Bellamy has taught me to work with my teammates and build great camaraderie. This was pretty much a team effort all the way around," Clark said. "I got hot early and relied on my jump shot because it was going for me and then things opened up inside. Whatever the defender gives me, I pretty much take."
Clark and big man Kyle Edwards are the only returning starters for Palmetto, which is 3-0 in district play and improved to 5-3 overall. Edwards finished with 15 points.
Clark tallied 12 points in the third quarter, scoring the final four of the period on a drive to the basket and then getting a slam dunk on a fast break off a turnover as the Tigers extended their lead to 61-42..
Palmetto was sloppy with the ball, particularly in the first half. The Tigers had seven turnovers in the opening quarter, which ended deadlocked at 14. Braden River (4-3, 0-2) scored 10 points off the turnovers, but couldn't keep up when Clark started to light it up from downtown in the third quarter.
Bellamy sees his prize possession as the ultimate leader and says if the 17 year-old has a fault, it's that he doesn't shoot enough.
"Tre is doing some great things. The three-ball fell pretty good for him tonight and once he gets into his rhythm it's going to be pretty interesting because a lot of our guys bounce off of what is going on with him," Bellamy
said. "He is very unselfish. I would go on the record of saying he is too unselfish. I think he needs to look to shoot more in certain situations, but his personality is such that he is not even close to being selfish. He wants everybody to enjoy the success we are trying to have."
Braden River didn't have the speed to match Palmetto, but the Pirates made a game of it until things got out of hand in the fourth quarter.
Daniel Tart and Jordan Curtis scored four points apiece in the opening quarter and sparked Braden River on a 7-0 run to end the first period and create the deadlock.
The game was last tied at 20, when Clark drained back-to-back treys and scored 11 points to spark a 13-6 run that gave Palmetto a 33-26 lead with 1:50 left before halftime. Then the Tigers nailed two straight from 3-point land to end the first half.
Tart led Braden River with 14 points while Deoni Cason and Parker Golemo scored 10 points each.
The Pirates managed to stay in the game by connecting on 12 of 28 shots in the second and third quarters, but missed 15 of 16 field goal attempts in the final period.
They had 11 second-half turnovers after committing seven combined in the first two periods. Palmetto connected on 26 of 59 field-goal attempts and hit 9 of 17 in the third quarter to pull away.