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Hillsborough: Boys basketball district preview

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Thu. February 2, 2012 | Joey Knight | Email

Hillsborough: Boys basketball district preview

GIBSONTON — In terms of backboards per capita, Kansas ranks only a couple of tiers below Kentucky. Jayhawks are the state bird. A midweek high school game routinely draws the type of crowd Florida fans don’t see until a state final.

Dario Duque, who played his freshman and sophomore years at Wichita’s East High, can attest.

“You couldn’t really hear your coach some games, during the big games,” he said.

Yet the crowds belied the isolation Duque felt. The older sister he adored had left for the University of Kansas, leaving only Dario and his mom at home. A pair of buddies, overlooked by four-year programs, had opted for junior colleges.

Perhaps on a fresh landscape, where the crowd sizes are minimal but so is the risk of being lost in the shuffle, Dario could do better. So the slender two-guard transitioned, from East High to East Bay.

“He said, ‘What do you think about me coming down here?’ ” recalled his dad, Robert, a software engineer at MacDill Air Force Base and Gibsonton resident.

“I said, ‘You’re good. These guys come here as freshmen and sophomores, and you’re going to have to come and make a name for yourself.’ ”

Today, his game is as distinctive as his name. With dazzling concurrence, Dario Javaughn Duque (pronounced doo-KWAY) has helped put himself on the college radar, and East Bay on the map.

“Dario’s a major reason for our turnaround, I know that,” Indians coach Billy Teeden said.

Last season, Duque’s first in Gibsonton, the Indians notched their first winning season in 38 years (18-10) behind a balanced offense with four players averaging at least eight points.

This year, they’re 17-4 and the No. 1 seed entering next week’s Class 7A, District 8 tournament. Duque (6-foot-4, 170 pounds), exposed to a plethora of gimmick defenses, leads the Indians in scoring (18.6 ppg), rebounding (6.1 rpg) and steals (4.5 spg).

“There’s not one thing that he does, like, extremely well. He does a lot of things very well for us,” Teeden said.

“He can defend (the opponent’s) best player, he can also play off the ball. Primarily though, when it comes down to crunch time, he knows he needs the ball in his hands and he’s come through for us.”

That was never more evident than during a mid-December game at Tampa Bay Tech. After nailing a 3-pointer with about five seconds to play that tied the score, Duque snagged a loose ball, got fouled, and made the second of two free-throw tries to clinch a 54-53 victory.

“I saw a box-and-one the other night (against Armwood) for the first time,” Duque said.

“I’ve seen one guy just stay on me, basically is just all over me. I’ve gotten double-teamed many times. They’re just always on me, I’ve never got any air or space. They just try to make it tough on me.”

Not all of the attention is unwelcome. Teeden says some Division II programs, as well as some jucos, have taken notice. A broken wrist sustained early last summer during the AAU season — a critical time for college exposure — set Duque back but he’ll play again this summer.

After all, more fresh landscapes — where scholarships are nestled — remain to be conquered.

“I don’t think I’ve surprised myself because sometimes I think I could’ve done something better or played better or something,” Duque said. “But I think, really, you haven’t seen the full potential of me yet.”

District schedules
8A-7 at Durant

Tuesday: No. 5 Bloomingdale vs. No. 4 Newsome, 6:30; No. 6 Durant vs. No. 3 Alonso, 8
Wednesday: Durant/Alonso winner vs. No. 2 Plant, 6:30 or 8;* Bloomingdale/Newsome winner vs. No. 1 Wharton, 6:30 or 8*
Feb. 10: Final, 7
*If Durant wins Tuesday, it will play the late game Wednesday

7A-9 at Chamberlain
Tuesday: No. 5 Gaither vs. No. 4 Freedom, 7
Wednesday: No. 3 Steinbrenner vs. No. 2 Wiregrass Ranch, 6; Gaither/Freedom winner vs. No. 1 Chamberlain, 7:30
Feb. 10: Final, 7:30

7A-8 at East Bay
Tuesday: No. 5 Brandon vs. No. 4 Plant City, 5; No. 6 Hillsborough vs. No. 3 Riverview, 7
Wednesday: Hillsborough/Riverview winner vs. No. 2 TBT, 5; Brandon/Plant City winner vs. No. 1 East Bay, 7
Feb. 10: Final, 7

6A-11 at Sickles
Monday: No. 5 Leto vs. No. 4 King, 6; No. 6 Jefferson vs. No. 3 Armwood, 7:30
Wednesday: Jefferson/Armwood winner vs. No. 2 Strawberry Crest, 6; Leto/King winner vs. No. 1 Sickles, 7:30
Feb. 10: Final, 7:30

5A-11 at Blake
Tuesday: No. 5 Spoto vs. No. 4 Blake, 6:30; No. 6 Middleton vs. No. 3 Lennard, 8
Feb. 10: Spoto/Blake winner vs. No. 1 Jesuit, 6:30; Lennard/Middleton winner vs. No. 2 Robinson, 8
Feb. 11: Final, 7

4A-9 at Berkeley Prep
Wednesday: No. 3 Sarasota Booker vs. No. 2 Tampa Catholic, 7
Feb. 10: No. 1 Berkeley Prep vs. Booker/TC winner, 7

3A-8 at Tampa Prep
Tuesday: No. 5 Bishop McLaughlin vs. No. 4 Brooks-DeBartolo, 7
Feb. 10: No. 2 Seffner Christian vs. No. 2 Carrollwood Day, 4 or 5:30*; Bishop McLaughlin/Brooks-DeBartolo winner vs. No. 1 Tampa Prep, 4 or 5:30*
Feb. 11: Final, 7

2A-8 at Academy at the Lakes
Tuesday: No. 4 Citrus Park Christian vs. No. 5 Tampa Bay Christian, 7:30
Feb. 10: No. 3 Academy at the Lakes vs. No. 2 Bayshore Christian, 6; No. 1 Cambridge vs. Citrus Park/TBC winner, 7:30
Feb. 11: Final, 7:30

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