VERO BEACH — Fort Pierce Central was not intimidated at all by state powerhouse Dr. Phillips on Wednesday night.
Central played the Orlando school tight in the first 28 minutes, but the Panthers scored the game’s final 19 points on the way to a 75-54 win in the Holiday Hoopla tournament at John B. Witt Gym.
Tyriefe Beard proved to be the biggest problem for the Cobras (6-5).
The 6-foot-3 junior forward, saddled with early foul trouble, scored all 15 of his points in the final 4:46 of the game. His 3-point play gave the Panthers (10-3) a 56-52 lead, and the only bucket Central could manage the rest of the game was a layup by Josh Knight to cut it to 56-54.
The Cobras had momentum on its side in the third quarter as it held the lead twice in the period’s waning moments. But a layup by C.J. Jones and a 3-point play by Roderick Lawrence gave Dr. Phillips a 49-45 advantage heading into the final eight minutes.
“We actually thought we were going to win it,” said Central coach Brandon Grammer. “That was our mentality the whole game. We felt we were as good as the team we were playing.
“The name on the front of the jersey didn’t scare us today.”
Raquan Dobson and Cornelius Peterson each scored a team-high 14 points for the Cobras. Deion Cummings and Knight scored 10 each.
Twenty-one points from RaShawn Powell led the Panthers, while Isaac Lane added 19.
Central will face Palm Bay in the third-place game at 6 p.m..
Lake Gibson and Palm Beach Gardens will play in the fifth-place game at 4:30 p.m., while Southwest Miami and Bayside — both 0-2 in the tournament — will meet at 3 p.m.