Boys basketball: Tampa Catholic prevails in battle of unbeatens in City of Tampa Championship tourney

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Wed. December 21, 2011 | Nick Williams

TAMPA — During his 10 years as coach at Sickles, Renaldo Garcia had yet to face Tampa Catholic, his former team, and coach, Don Dziagwa, in an official game.

Years ago, Sickles played at Tampa Catholic in a preseason game, where Garcia, who remains third on the program’s all-time scoring list, was welcomed with a standing ovation.

On Wednesday at Tampa Prep for the opening round of the City of Tampa Championship, however, Garcia, who graduated from TC in 1987, finally got his shot at his former coach. But the end result wasn’t to his liking.

Dziagwa’s Crusaders handed the Gryphons their first loss of the season with a 54-51 win to advance to the second round. Tampa Catholic (9-0) faces Chamberlain tonight in the semifinals at 6, followed by Plant vs. host Tampa Prep.

Led by junior Reggie Hart’s 21 points, the Chiefs defeated defending champion Blake 52-36 Wednesday.

Sickles (8-1) had possession of the ball with 10.5 seconds left in the game and junior Raymond Santiago had an open look at a 3-pointer from the corner, but it bounced off the far side of the rim. Sickles junior Malcolm Johnson tried to save the ball as it sailed out of bounds, but threw it off the leg of his teammate to give Tampa Catholic possession with 1.3 left.

“We had a few different options,” Garcia said. “They knew we needed three points so that kind of helped them.”

Sophomore Isiah Thomas led TC with 22 points, four assists and two steals while sophomore Chivarsky Corbett added 17 points and eight rebounds. Johnson led Sickles with 17 points.

“I told our guys that to win the game, we might have to play their style,” said Dziagwa, whose team has been averaging 78 points per game. “They did a good job of not letting us get into a running game.”

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