PALMETTO -- Palmetto used its length and clutch free-throw shooting to earn a tough 56-41 victory over Braden River on Tuesday night in a Class 7A-District 10 boys basketball matchup.
The victory improves Palmetto to 8-7 overall and creates a logjam at first place in the district with the Tigers, Lakewood Ranch and North Port all sitting with two losses.
Despite giving up a lot of height, Braden River (8-10, 2-4) stayed with the host Tigers in a game that was a lot closer than the final score indicated.
The Pirates led 35-33 with 5 minutes, 43 seconds left in the fourth quarter when Palmetto went on a 12-3 run sparked by Tre Clark's five points to build a 45-38 advantage with 3:22 remaining.
Clark scored eight of his game-high 18 points in the fourth quarter, and the Tigers clamped down on defense, limiting Braden River to one basket on eight field-goal attempts, a 3-pointer by Jacob Garrett.
While Braden River was struggling from the field, Palmetto converted 12 of 17 attempts from the charity stripe, including its last six of the game.
"I am continuously seeing areas of improvement, and that's what we want to do with a group like this that is so young," Palmetto head coach Reggie Bellamy said.
The Tigers took advantage of the inside play of their special set of twin towers, Tyler and Brandon Thomas, who helped Palmetto control the boards in the fourth quarter and get some high percentage shots.
In the final period, Tyler Thomas scored four points and had three rebounds. Palmetto also got nine points from guard Dearius Washington, and Kyle Edwards had six rebounds.
"We want to continue to build on the length and experience of the Thomas twins on the inside, and that is an area where we showed a little bit of improvement tonight," Bellamy said. "We shot the ball well, but we've been on the road for a long time. Our last home game was December 5th. We want to show some improvement in some personnel spots, and we did tonight."
Braden River got a standout game from Deondrick Bacon, who played in the post all game giving up a lot of height, but more than held his own and dominated the glass at times. The senior led the Pirates with 16 points and took game rebound honors with nine boards.
Tyler Dyson contributed to the Pirates scoring with 10 points, and Jacob Garrett had six rebounds.
Braden River, which usually shoots well from long range, struggled from 3-point land, converting only 1 of 14 attempts. Palmetto connected on 5 of 16 attempts from beyond the arc, with Clark nailing 3 of 7 attempts.
Both teams struggled with their overall shooting. Braden River connected on 14 of 44 field goal attempts and Palmetto was 14-for-43.