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Prep Sports Report

Bob Putnam, Rodney Page, Kelly Parsons

Boys basketball: Countryside 55, East Lake 49

CLEARWATER – It was not the most technically-sound game. There were errant passes, missed shots and defensive lapses.

But it was a win.

That is all that mattered for Countryside, which beat East Lake 56-49 to clinch the No. 1 seed in the Class 8A, District 10 tournament.

“That was our first game in a while where we haven’t looked very good,” Cougars coach Jeff Powers said. “I don’t want to call it a dud but they know they have to play better.”

Powers sensed a game like this was possible considering the way his team practiced Monday.

“We were lackadaisical in practice and did some uncharacteristic things in the game,” Powers said.

Trailing 10-2 in the first quarter, Countryside started chipping away at the deficit. The Cougars cut it to 11-10 at the end of the quarter on Tyler Witz’s buzzer-beating putback.

At the start of the second quarter, Troy Reeves hit a 3-pointer to give Countryside its first lead, 13-11.

The Cougars (14-5) never trailed after that.

By the half, Countryside led 37-27 thanks to last-second 3-pointer by CJ Williams. …

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HomeTeam Hot Shots: Nominations for Jan. 7-13

Each week, our HomeTeam staffers nominate male and female Hot Shot athletes from each of the counties we cover. Then we turn the voting over to readers. These nominations span Saturday, Jan. 7 through Jan. 13. Read up on all of our nominees then vote until noon Monday.

Female nominees

Samantha Epifanio, soccer, Land O’Lakes: Trailing 1-0 against rival Mitchell, the senior sparked a comeback with an assist on the tying goal and scoring the game-winner from 30 yards out for the Gators.  

Julia Ingram, basketball, Palm Harbor University: The senior scored 30 points in a win over St. Petersburg to become the school’s all-time leader in career points with 1,751. She is averaging 25.1 points per game this season.  

Kayla Langley, basketball, Nature Coast: The sophomore had 12 rebounds, 12 blocked shots and nine points in a 38-35 win over Citrus. She is averaging 16 points and 11 rebounds per game.

Taylor Polasky, basketball, Calvary Christian: The junior scored a team-high 21 points in a 68-36 win over Tampa Prep. The Warriors have won four straight, all by double digits. …

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Grab early tickets to Berkeley Prep's National Hoopfest

Tampa Catholic's Kevin Knox will be one of the top players competing in Berkeley Prep's ARS National Hoopfest on Jan. 20-21.

Andres Leiva | Times

Tampa Catholic's Kevin Knox will be one of the top players competing in Berkeley Prep's ARS National Hoopfest on Jan. 20-21.

The National Hoopfest, one of the top boys basketball tournaments in the country, will be held Jan. 20-21 at Berkeley Prep.

Oldsmar Christian, Tampa Catholic, Tampa Prep, St. Petersburg and the host Buccaneers are the local programs participating in the 13-team field, which will boast around a dozen players ranked in the ESPN top 100. Tickets are $10 for all-day pass for Friday’s games and are available at the gymnasium. Saturday’s all-day pass is $15 and can pe purchased in advance at nationalhoopfest.com.

Here is the schedule for the tournament.

Friday’s games (Jan. 20): IMG Academy vs. Berkeley Prep, 5 p.m.; Huntington Prep (WV) vs. Oldsmar Christian, 6:30; West Oaks vs. Tampa Catholic, 8.

Saturday’s games (Jan. 21): Huntington Prep vs. Victory Rock, noon; St. Benedict’s (NJ) vs. Tampa Prep, 1:30; Windermere Prep vs. Berkeley Prep, 3; Oak Hill Academy (Va.) vs. St. Petersburg, 4:30; Montverde vs. Tampa Catholic, 6.

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Boys basketball: Calvary Christian 72, Tampa Prep 60

TAMPA – In the offseason, the Florida High School Athletic Association readjusted its basketball classifications. That affected Calvary Christian’s boys program because it was placed in the same district (Class 4A-4) as Tampa Prep.

The Terrapins have a playoff pedigree with 11 straight district titles and seven straight region final appearances. The Warriors have made the playoffs just once in the past seasons.

But Calvary Christian had something that Tampa Prep didn't, at least in Tuesday’s regular-season meeting: experience.

All five starters for the Warriors are seniors, most of whom played together since elementary school. The Terrapins, meanwhile, lost nine seniors from last season’s team, including Juwan Durham (Connecticut) and Tyson Ward (North Dakota State), who are now playing in college.

The difference showed as the Warriors jumped out to an early lead and never allowed Tampa Prep to take control in cruising to a 72-60 win.

This is the first time Calvary Christian has beaten the Terrapins in Keb Burley’s five seasons as coach, though the teams met only once before in that span. …

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PHU sweeps Countryside in girls and boys soccer

Palm Harbor University’s girls soccer team can be controlled on occasion – for a few minutes, maybe a half.

Then things seem to explode.

Soccer balls start finding their way into the net. The offense becomes unhinged. Suddenly the frenzy is on and every possession seemingly produces a score. It's like an adding machine gone wild and a tight game becomes a blowout.

It happened again in the Hurricanes’ 7-2 win over Countryside.

Tied at 2 at the half, PHU (13-0-1) scored five second half goals. The shots fell through as Alivia Gonzalez scored four goals and Allyssa Woodring had two.

It was the fifth time this season the Hurricanes have scored seven or more goals in a game.

Monday’s contest was supposed to be a test.

For a half, it was exactly that.

The Cougars’ KB Weiner and Gonzalez each had two goals.

After that, PHU poured it on to remain undefeated.

“We were reacting more in the first half instead of reading the play,” Hurricanes coach John Planamenta said. “We kind of settled into things in the second half.”

The loss snapped Countryside’s seven game win streak. …

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Amari Burney among three players leaving CCC

Three Clearwater Central Catholic starters – Amari Burney, Deandre Ferguson and Dane Saltarelli  – have decided to transfer to other schools

Burney and Ferguson, both rising seniors, are leaving to attend Calvary Christian starting on Monday. The two are receivers/defensive backs who helped the Marauders to district titles each of the last three seasons and to two state semifinal appearances during that span.

Burney is a four-star prospect according to 247Sports and has offers from schools such as Florida State, Michigan and Ohio State. This past season, he had 331 yards receiving and six touchdowns.

He said the decision to go to Calvary Christian was based on coaching.

Last season, CCC assistant Chris Harvey was promoted to head coach, replacing his father-in-law John Davis, who retired. In his debut season, Harvey led CCC to a 9-2 record and a trip to the region final. It was the first time the Marauders failed to reach the state semifinals in five seasons.

Both losses this past season came on last minute goal-line stands.

In December, Davis agreed to return as the team’s offensive coordinator.

Burney said it wasn’t enough to influence him to stay. …

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Wrestling: Northeast topples Dixie Hollins in city meet

Northeast won its first St. Peterburg City Meet title since 2007.

Andy Warrener | Special to the Times

Northeast won its first St. Peterburg City Meet title since 2007.

In December, after Northeast had the best finish (fourth) of any Pinellas County team at the Southside Duals in Gulfport, coach Robert Wilson said his Vikings could give Dixie Hollins a run at the city meet.

They certainly did Saturday. Through the first few rounds, the Rebels led 155-146. By the time only the consolation finals and championship finals were left, the Rebels led by 16. Heading into the finals, the Vikings clawed back and closed within four.

The city title was going to be decided on the mat. Both Dixie and host Northeast had nine wrestlers in the finals with six head-to-head matchups. On paper, it looked as though Dixie had the edge with undefeated Drew Harrington (126) and Jesse Smith (285) virtual locks for two of the six wins. …

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Boys basketball: Sickles 54, St. Petersburg 46

ST. PETERSBURG – Sickles has not just beaten every bay area opponent it has faced this season. The Gryphons have annihilated the local competition, winning each game by 20 or more points.

So Sickles got exactly what it wanted against defending state finalist St. Petersburg: a test.

Locked in a close battle throughout the first half, the Gryphons relied on their defense to pull away in a 54-46 win.

“Anytime you can come over here and be successful in this type of environment it’s a good thing,” Sickles coach Renaldo Garcia said. “I thought we played hard and did enough to get by in a hostile environment.”

The Gryphons (13-3) received a lot of accolades after impressive performances at camps and leagues last summer. They struggled in the preseason and opened the regular season with a loss to Orlando Oak Ridge.

Since then, Sickles has dominated, much like it did in the summer. The other two losses this season have against North Miami Beach and Cincinnati’s Archbishop Moeller. …

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Boys basketball: Orlando Dr. Phillips 59, Wharton 55

CLEARWATER — A flash of fireworks late in Saturday's finale of the Spectrum Sports Shootout at Clearwater High School could have long-range impact on two of the state's better teams.

With 47.2 seconds left to play, away from a traveling call against Orlando Dr. Phillips, Jordan Poventud of the Panthers and Wharton's Darin Green Jr. were involved in a skirmish that saw the two sophomores wrestle each other to the court. The scrum was quickly broken up before other players could get involved.

Poventud and Green were issued flagrant technicals and ejected from the game while Dr. Phillips saw two bench players and an assistant coach get T'd up for coming onto the court.

With the possibility for lengthy suspensions, maybe stretching into the playoffs, for the two starters now in the Florida High School Athletic Association's hands via a report filed by the officiating crew, the incident takes the shine off both a solid Wharton comeback and a 59-55 Dr. Phillips victory. …

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Wrestling: East Bay’s Kevin Clayton remains unbeaten

GIBSONTON — East Bay’s Kevin Clayton capped a 42-5 record last season with his first state appearance and fell short of his semifinal goal by one round. The senior, who wrestles at 195 pounds, has loftier goals for this season.

On Saturday afternoon, Clayton capped the two-day East Bay 10-way tournament with his ninth straight victory, all by pins. That improved his season record to 27-0.

“What’s working is having a good wrestling partner (in 182-pound teammate Sebastian Johnson) and going out to Brandon for more practice,” he said, alluding to Brandon’s evening sessions that are open to wrestlers from all schools that practice in the late afternoons.

“It’s intensity and moves. I’m more focused this year. Last year I choked at states.”

Clayton’s performance helped host East Bay tie Freedom for third place at 6-3 in the weekend meet. Brandon, which earlier this season won the Riverview 10-way meet, won against nine other schools on Friday and Saturday to improve its overall season record to 26-0. At 7-2, Plant was the runnerup and now stands at 14-5 overall. …

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Boys basketball: Tampa Prep 57, Berkeley Prep 47

Tampa Prep senior point guard Amari Goulbourne (right) controlled the flow on Saturday against Berkeley Prep. Tampa Prep and Goulbourne pulled away from the Bucs in the second half and went on to seal the victory, 57-47.

Scott Purks | Special to the Times

Tampa Prep senior point guard Amari Goulbourne (right) controlled the flow on Saturday against Berkeley Prep. Tampa Prep and Goulbourne pulled away from the Bucs in the second half and went on to seal the victory, 57-47.

TAMPA — As far as Tampa Prep senior point guard Amari Goulbourne was concerned, it was about darned time his Terrapins defeated the Bucs.

The last time Tampa Prep defeated Berkeley Prep in boys basketball was more than two years ago when Goulbourne was a sophomore. In that span,  Berkeley Prep racked up a painful 5-0 streak over the Terps.

“All the seniors were really hyped up for this one,” Goulbourne said. “We felt this was our time.”

And it was.

In front of a raucous, packed house at Berkeley Prep, the Terrapins shrugged off a relatively slow start and steadily pulled away for a 57-47 victory.

“I think we settled down in the second half,” said Goulbourne, who deftly controlled his team’s tempo. “We knew we had the talent to get it done.”

Besides Goulbourne, who finished with 10 points, Berkeley had trouble with Tampa Prep’s bigger bodies in the paint, particularly Jaren Phillips and Trey Sibert, who finished with 14 and 11 points, respectively, and Charles Scriven, who had a team-high 10 rebounds and six blocked shots. 

“We did not play well in the post,” Berkeley Prep coach Bobby Reinhart said. “(Tampa Prep) had an advantage there.” …

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HomeTeam Hot Shots: Nominations through Jan. 6

Each week, our HomeTeam staffers nominate male and female Hot Shot athletes from each of the counties we cover. Then we turn the voting over to readers. These nominations span the winter break through Friday, Jan. 6. Read up on all of our nominees then vote until noon Monday.

Female nominees

Ali Bronson, basketball, Hernando: Bronson scored a total of 41 points in three games at the Hernando Holiday Classic, including 16 points in a 45-38 overtime win over Weeki Wachee in the championship game. She had 13 points and 12 rebounds in the opening game against Northeast.

Audra Leipold, basketball, Seffner Christian: The  junior eclipsed 2,000 points in her high school career when she scored 17 against Briarcrest Christian (Tenn.) in the final of the Tampa Bay Christmas Classic. She added 17 points against Fort Myers on Tuesday.

CC Mays, basketball, Carrollwood Day: The freshman had a quadruple double (10 points, 14 assists, 11 rebounds, 12 steals) against Middleton to help the Patriots win the CDS Holiday Tournament. She also had 10 steals in a win over Indian Rocks Christian on Thursday. …

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Boys soccer: Shorecrest 1, St. Petersburg Catholic 1

ST. PETERSBURG – A little bit of luck, a little bit of skill and a whole lot of defense. 

The matchup between district rivals St. Petersburg Catholic and Shorecrest Prep on Thursday night lived up to its billing, ending in a 1-1 draw.

In their past 11 meetings, SPC holds a slight 5-4-2 edge head-to-head.

Returning from a 20-day break, the visiting Barons (8-0-1, 5-0-1 in Class A-6) commanded first-half possession but trailed the Chargers (8-2-2, 4-0-2) after 20 minutes.

On their only first-half foray into the box, freshman Will Hodgson grabbed a loose ball and spun a 15-yard shot across the net, off the bottom of the crossbar and in.

“The ball was bouncing and I didn't want to power it and miss the net,” said Hodgson of his first varsity goal.

"We got a little lucky," said Shorecrest coach Milen Gagenelov. "Will got that ball on his weak leg but he fought for that goal."

After being denied by a SPC foul and a clutch Will Tirone save, the third time was the charm for junior Kaan Gezen with eight minutes left in the half as he headed a beautiful right-wing cross from senior Chris Coughlin into the open left side of the net. …

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Wrestling: Plant conquers Jefferson, dew in outdoors dual match

Plant High held a wrestling meet with Jefferson on the football field Wednesday night.

Steve Lee | Special to the Times

Plant High held a wrestling meet with Jefferson on the football field Wednesday night.

TAMPA — Hillsborough County’s first outdoor dual match on Wednesday night at Plant’s Dads Stadium actually turned into a three-way battle.

On the scorecard, the host Panthers dominated in a 57-15 win over rival Jefferson. The historical match, however, was delayed for a half hour with the evening dew making the mat at midfield quite slippery. Two large fans were brought in with wrestlers periodically toweling down the mats.

“It was a great night and our kids took it,” said Plant coach Bryan Kenney, who as a high school wrestler in Chicago occasionally competed outdoors. “It was a difficult night, fighting against the dew.”

Nonetheless, Kenney and Jefferson coach Adam Altuzarra agreed that the event, which drew about 200 people in the stands, was worthwhile. 

“I thought it was really cool,” said Jim Henrickson, who formerly coached wrestling at Armwood and Leto, and announced the match from the press box. “It brought back the old-school excitement of a dual.”

Ed Ellsasser, whose son Austin, a sophomore, wrestles for Plant, was thrilled to view Wednesday night’s historical event.

“(Austin) was excited to be on the football field, because we come to all the football games,” Ellsasser said. …

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Girls basketball: Lakewood 59, Clearwater 48

CLEARWATER – When it comes to playing teams in Pinellas County, Lakewood coach Necole Tunsil isn’t very impressed. She looks at the games as a necessary evil. They are on the schedule, but she doesn’t feel the games do much to get her team ready for the postseason.

Tuesday’s game at Clearwater promised to be different. The Tornadoes are talented and only had one loss in the first half of the season. But Lakewood jumped on Clearwater early, survived a shaky third quarter, and won 59-48. Toi Smith led the Spartans with 15 points. Zariyah Daniels chipped in with 14.

“We don’t have enough games like this, and even in this game we were up (17) at half,’’ Tunsil said. “It could have gotten out of hand, but we were just satisfied with the lead. We could’ve increased it to 30 or 40 points, easily. But hats off to them in the second half. They came back and showed some heart. But we weren’t rattled because we always knew that we were going to win the game.’’ …

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