TAMPA — Berkeley Prep's basketball season ended more than a month ago with a loss in the Class 4A state semifinal. But for coach Bobby Reinhart, it was the Hillsborough County winter sports awards ceremony that marked the end of the Gray era.
For eight years Reinhart has coached Justin Gray or his older brother Johnathan, a 2009 Berkeley Prep graduate. At Thursday's half-hour ceremony, with his older brother in attendance, senior guard Justin Gray was recognized with the Alston "Mac" McGahagin Boys Basketball Award, given annually to the county's best player.
"It's bittersweet for sure," Reinhart said about the occasion. "Justin's had a great career, and as they mentioned in the ceremony, he's as equally a good young man as he is a basketball player. The example he's been in our program for the past five years is something we'll miss."
Gray, a 6-foot-4 Texas Tech recruit, led the Bucs to a 27-4 finish and a state final four appearance, averaging more than 17 points and seven rebounds per game.
It was a season Gray said was the best of his life. And this time, brother Johnathan was beside him the whole way.
Before the season began, Reinhart offered an assistant coaching position to Johnathan Gray, who averaged a team-high 18.4 points his senior year in 2008-09 and went on to play at Cornell.
Having the opportunity to be involved in his brother's final Berkeley Prep season and see it end with Hillsborough County player of the year honors put the elder Gray at a loss for words.
"For me, at the level I was playing at, to see someone exceed those expectations where I was as a player, I can't even describe it," he said.
Justin, who didn't know he'd won the award until his name was called to come up and receive it, glowed as he held the large plaque he'd been given. After posing for pictures with the award, Gray returned to his seat beside his proud brother.
Falling just two wins short of a state title, Gray said his senior season didn't end exactly how he wanted it to. But looking ahead to his future college career and back to the experience he shared with his older brother, the player of the year admitted things were about as good as it gets.
"He mentored me and he was kind of that rock for me on the bench when I wasn't really in the game," Gray said. "To go on this run this year with him was amazing. I'll never forget it."
Other winners at the Hillsborough County winter sports awards ceremony included:
Girls soccer highest team GPA, Plant (3.687)
Boys soccer highest team GPA, Plant (3.282)
Girls basketball highest team GPA, Plant (3.703)
Boys basketball highest team GPA, Plant (3.507)
Cheerleading highest team GPA, Alonso (3.649)
Wrestling highest team GPA, Brandon (3.152)
Dottie McGahagin Girls Basketball Award, Aliyah Gregory, Strawberry Crest
Williamson-Snapp Outstanding Cheerleader Award, Michelle Skelton, King
Hillsborough County Outstanding Wrestler of the Year, James Flint, Brandon
Joel Medgebow "Coach of the Year" Award, William Sargable, Riverview