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With the girls basketball season in Hillsborough County in full swing, we take a look at the top teams and players with just more than three weeks until district tournaments open.
Midseason all-county team
G Bre Crum, Sickles, So.: County’s leading scorer has six 30-point games, and is averaging 5.9 rebounds, 4.5 steals, but hasn’t played since the break.
G Meghan Keough, Tampa Catholic, Sr.: UCF recruit has taken over the scoring load for defending 3A champs (20.8 ppg), double figures in every game.
G Kaitlynn Pacholke, Freedom, Sr.: Jacksonville State recruit is pacing district-leading Pats with 16.8 points, 8.9 assists, 6.1 steals.
F Faith Woodard, Riverview, So.: Sharks’ top player is averaging 17.5 ppg, 10.0 rpg, 3.9 spg), has nine double doubles for district leaders.
C Erica Young, Tampa Bay Tech, So.: Sophomore is averaging almost a double double (14.7 ppg, 9.9 rpg); appears fully recovered from last year’s knee injury.
Others in the hunt: Shayla Wilson, Jefferson; Chelsea White, Spoto; Dasia Daniels, Tampa Bay Tech; Laurie’ Beaty, Jefferson; Kelly Brennan, Plant; Brianna Thomas, Spoto; Eryka Williams, Durant, Tesha Hanson, Seffner Christian; Aliyah Gregory, Strawberry Crest, Amber Henson, Sickles; Dominique Brown, Blake
The team to beat: Jefferson
The Dragons are primed for another deep postseason run after making the state tournament for the first time in school history. Their only loss of the season came to Reynoldsburg (Ohio) in the prestigious Basketball Brothers Inc. Invitational in Fort Myers. What makes first-year Jefferson coach Jim Baxter’s team so tough to beat? Four players average at least 9.5 points a game, and Laurie’ Beaty (6.3 assists) has grown into her new point guard role.
The team to watch: Tampa Bay Tech
Sophomore center Erica Young and senior guard Dasia Daniels give the Titans the dangerous inside-out combo that most playoff contenders need. Both are capable of taking over a game. Young, a 6-foot-3 center, has a 21-point, 19-rebound game in TBT’s 61-59 win over Durant. Daniels, a dynamic scorer who has reached double figures in 15 of the Titans’ 18 games and is a pesky defender, had a 26-point, eight-steal game against Armwood. The Titans’ remaining schedule is tough, with Buchholz, a Durant rematch and Sickles looming before districts, so it will be interesting to see how the talented Titans fare.
Surprise team: Steinbrenner
Last year, the Warriors were 9-10, but second-year Steinbrenner’s only two losses this season have come to the top two teams in our super seven. Steinbrenner has two district contests with Spoto and will face Plant, but it has become a postseason contender. Sophomore duo Lauren Shedd (13.3 points, 7.1) and Bailey Hooker (11.1 points, 8.1 rebounds) give the Warriors a sizable foundation to build on.
Most intriguing team: Sickles
The injury-plagued Gryphons have lost five of their past seven games. Point guard Bre Crum carried Sickles early in the season when All-American Amber Henson was out, but now both Crum (ankle) and Henson are banged up. Henson, a Duke recruit, has played in just six games as she recovers from knee surgery, but is still averaging a double double (19.0 points, 13.5 rebounds). Sophomore guard Sara Hartman (12.5 ppg) is Sickles’ only other player to average more than four points a game, so the Gryphons will need to get healthy if they want to make noise down the stretch.
Times’ super seven
1. Jefferson (16-1)
2. Riverview (16-2)
3. Tampa Catholic (11-4)
4. Tampa Bay Tech (14-4)
5. Freedom (14-1)
6. Plant (12-3)
7. Steinbrenner (13-2)
On the bubble: Durant (11-3), Spoto (8-4), Sickles (9-7), Blake (6-7)