Clearwater hosted Countryside in the Jack L. Wilson gym on Friday night, and the Tornadoes would claim victory in the battle of winless teams with a 46-40 win.
The win over the Cougars is also the Tornadoes' first 7A District 9 win of the season.
It was also the first win for new Tornadoes head coach Tom Shaneyfelt, who said that although it is a great way to start off the season, it’s not who they face that makes a great win, it’s how they play each game.
“It’s all about baby steps this season,” said Shaneyfelt. “We are trying to get our kids to understand that what they have to encounter from any opponent on the court everyday, every night and every game. At this point in the season the opponent doesn’t so much matter, it’s us playing the best we can.”
The Tornadoes would have a rough start in the first half as Countryside’s Jake Trimble and Jhakheem Smith put points on the board, holding off the offensive advances of Clearwater’s lead scorer Marcus Budd. He would put nine points on the board in the first half.
The Tornadoes would fight back and would take a 26-17 lead just before the end of the first half. For Budd, the second half was filled with both intensity and a little bit of frustration.
“With this game there is always a true rivalry and I think at the end, we started to get a little frustrated, especially Chase (Ierna)”, said Budd. “But once we worked out our frustration with a few timeouts, things came together.”
At the start of the second half, the Cougars picked up the pace and became a threat to the trailing Tornadoes. Center/forward Anthony Hinson would pick up 10 points after only scoring four in the first half. The Cougars would squeak a 36-35 lead at the end of the third period.
But the Tornadoes would not go down without a fight. Rasim Avmet would give the Tornadoes eight points in the third and fourth period along with Austin Fuoco’s five points. Both players would get foul shots, which would close out the game.
For Shaneyfelt, the win tonight gets the team to focus on the season ahead.
“Marcus and all them got off to a great start and they held them off till the end of the game,” said Shaneyfelt. “Going into the next game, its not going to matter which games they should be winning, it should always be about the standard they hold themselves to and how they are going to finish.”
For Budd, this win brings a great motivation to look forward to.
“Tonight’s game should be a good way to possibly start a winning streak,” said Budd. “If we take the confidence from this game, then we will be definitely good.”
The Clearwater Tornadoes (1-1) will face off next against the Northeast Vikings, while the Countryside Cougars (1-4) will face off against Pinellas Park Patriots on Dec. 10.