Basketball notebook: Top Pinellas teams can't escape late-season injuries

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Wed. January 8, 2014 | Bob Putnam | Email

Basketball notebook: Top Pinellas teams can't escape late-season injuries

Gibbs’ Daniel Davis injured his knuckle three weeks ago. He figured it was just a bruise or a sprain, so he played in the Gladiators’ biggest win of the season, a 46-41 win over Oldsmar Christian.

A day later he found out it was broken.

“It’s tough to lose a guy like that because he was one of our leaders,” Gladiators coach Larry Murphy said.

Davis was the team’s leader in assists (4.6 per game) and third-leading scorer (9.5 points per game) at the time. During his absence, the Gladiators have gone 3-1, including Tuesday’s comeback win over district rival Lakewood.

Murphy said he expects Davis to return by Jan. 16 for a series of shootouts Gibbs is participating in out of county.

The Gladiators are not alone in dealing with the injury bug. Many playoff-contending teams in the county have not been able to get by the past month without someone twisting an ankle, straining a hamstring or damaging some other appendage.

Calvary Christian, led by an impressive group of freshmen, started the season 8-1. That was before the Warriors’ top post player, Tyler Knight, had surgery for a torn labrum and was lost for the season. Since then, Calvary Christian has gone 4-4.

Shorecrest’s leading scorer, Brady Grimm, was sidelined through most of the winter break with a strained hamstring. He returned and played sparingly in a loss two weeks ago to Tampa Prep in the championship game of the Chargers’ tournament.

Grimm is healthy again, but still working his way back into playing shape. But Shorecrest has two other players who have since been injured, Aundre Fredericks (shoulder) and sharp-shooter Kenny DeVaul (back). Chargers coach Daryl Blume is holding both out this week.

“We want to be as healthy as possible in the next few weeks for that stretch run,” Blume said.

Largo has been dealing with an ankle and knee injury to star Donavan Hale, who led the team to the region finals last year. Hale is slowly recovering and played well in a win against Port Charlotte at a shootout last week. But the Packers will be without guard Andrew Murphy, who had his appendix removed and will likely miss the next three weeks.

Surging Spongers: The Florida Association of Basketball Coaches released its latest state rankings. Most of the county’s elite teams remained near the top. St. Petersburg (8A) and Largo (6A) were each ranked fourth in their respective classifications. Gibbs was fifth in 5A and Shorecrest 10th in 3A.

But the biggest surprise was previously unranked Tarpon Springs, which was No. 7 in 5A. The Spongers struggled the past two years, but have turned things around with seven straight wins, including an upset of Nature Coast in the championship game of the Sharks tournament. Tarpon Springs (17-2) has been led by Scottie James and Trai Halton, who both rank among the team’s leading scorers.

Behori at his best: Marco Behori was among the players Seminole was counting on to fill the leadership void created with the departure of eight seniors. Behori, who saw limited playing last year, has obliged, averaging nearly 20 points per game and helping Seminole start 13-2.

On Tuesday, Behori scored a career-high 33 points, including five 3-pointers, in an 80-55 win over Pinellas Park.

“We knew we were going to have to lean on Marco more this year,” Warhawks coach Josh Walker said. “He’s done everything we’ve asked and more.”

Bob Putnam can be reached at putnam@tampabay.com. Find him on Twitter @BobbyHomeTeam.

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