TAMPA — Even though the Tampa Catholic team he coached against last year fell one win short of a state title and included the all-time Hillsborough County leading scorer in Kevin Knox, Community School of Naples coach Greg Donahue said before the game that he thought this year's team was even better.
And after Tampa Catholic (22-6), led by Tim Carter's 18 points and Kobe Knox's 16, sped past the Seahawks (21-7) in an 88-55 Class 5A region quarterfinal victory, Donahue didn't waver on his assessment.
"They share the ball so much better than last year when it was all about (Kevin) Knox," Donahue said. "This year, they just have a lot of weapons to guard. They were definitely the better team."
The win was the Crusaders' sixth straight and their 11th victory by at least 30 points. Tampa Catholic will next host Cape Coral Oasis (23-5) on Tuesday.
Opening the game with a strategy to slow Tampa Catholic's offensive tempo, the Seahawks' caught the Crusaders off-guard in the early minutes to take a 6-5 lead. But capitalizing on turnovers and on a 3-pointer that Carter drilled at the1st-quarter buzzer, TC went on a 19-0 scoring run into the second that proved insurmountable.
Carter and Knox led an offense that showcased its depth with eight 3-pointers, three of them by Darren Robinson.
"We've got shooters, we've got guys that crash the boards," Carter said "We have guys that can block shots, we have everything you need. We just need to get into it a bit earlier, we started off a little slow."
A 3-pointer by Knox with five seconds left in the first half gave Tampa Catholic all the momentum it needed for a 38-15 lead at halftime. Community School could get no closer than an 18-point margin in the second half. Parker Weiss led the Seahawks with 15 points and Jeffrey Donahue scored 14.
The expectations have been steadily growing this season for Tampa Catholic. The offense has averaged 79.5 points a game and won 11 games by a margin of at least 30 points.
""We're starting three sophomores and we've lost some big-time Division I players" TC coach Don Dziagwa said. "But maybe some of these guys are following in those footsteps."