BRADENTON -- Three practices filled the four days between Bradenton Christian's loss to St. Petersburg Shorecrest Prep to end the regular season and the start of the district basketball playoffs Tuesday in Bradenton.
"(The loss) was a sour taste," head coach Scott Townsend said. "Everyone was in a bad mood, but they worked extremely hard and kind of got refocused."
St. Petersburg Canterbury had the misfortune of being on the receiving end of that renewed focus.
Bradenton Christian used its full-court, ball-hawking defense to fuel a 98-25 rout at home in a Class 2A-District 9 semifinal. Sixteen of BCS' first 18 points came in transition, whether it was by launching outlet passes after a rebound or creating a turnover near midcourt.
"That's our thing, is to get rebounds and run," senior guard Vincent Rehfeldt said. "That's our game. Transition and go."
The 73-point margin of victory was the Panthers' largest of the season, surpassing a 72-point win against the Gulf Coast HEAT on Jan. 21. The next day, BCS scored 108 points against Bayshore. The Panthers' 97 on Tuesday matched their second most.
BCS (22-3) was in position to obliterate those marks at halftime. By then, Bradenton Christian led 61-17. At the end of the first quarter, the Panthers led 29-7. It took 2:20 to take their first double-digit lead and with 30 seconds left in the first quarter BCS led by 20 for the first time.
Canterbury (9-14) never got the lead back under 20 and never reached the 29 points Bradenton Christian scored during the first quarter in Bradenton.
"It probably didn't help their cause that we lost our last game of the season," Townsend said. "Sometimes those are good for you. We came really hungry, and we're back on track and we're ready to do what we do.
Five Panthers scored in double figures, led by Jake Lister's 18. The guard also led BCS with seven steals. Junior varsity call-up Kevin Etienne added 14, senior guard Alex Telfair scored 14 and dished out seven assists, center JT Noellert went for 12 and eight rebounds, and shooting guard Trent Bell dropped in 11. Shooting guard Ryan Leunk, Bradenton Christian's leading scorer this season, finished with three.
The Panthers will play for the district title Friday at home against Sarasota Christian, which beat St. Petersburg Keswick Christian in the other semifinal. A win would give BCS its first district championship since 2009 and an opportunity for homecourt advantage throughout the Class 2A-Region 3 tournament, which begins Feb. 11.
"It's just a stepping stone along the way," said Rehfeldt, whose senior class has finished as district runner-up in each of its first three seasons, "but it's definitely a nice goal."
David Wilson, Herald sports writer, can be contacted at 941-745-7057 or on Twitter@DBWilson2.