Each week, our HomeTeam staffers will nominate male and female Hot Shot athletes from each of the counties we cover. These nominations span Saturday, Jan. 26 through Friday, Feb. 1. Winners get a free T-shirt and bragging rights over every other school in the area. Read up on what made our nominees stand out, then look for our writers’ picks for overall winners in Tuesday’s Tampa Bay Times. Feel free to show support for your favorite in the comments section below.
Madison Del Duca, East Lake soccer: The senior, who will sign with Tennessee next week, scored her 32nd goal of the season in a win over Vero Beach in the region final. She also converted a penalty kick in the state semifinal loss to Oviedo.
Taylor Emery, Freedom basketball: The 5-foot-9 sophomore averaged 25 points in the Class 7A, District 9 tournament, helping the Patriots claim their second title in three years. Emery had 24 points and a game-high 10 steals in Freedom’s 63-45 win over Steinbrenner in the district final.
Leah Ford, River Ridge basketball: The sophomore scored a team-high 17 points to lead her fourth-seeded Royal Knights to a 46-35 upset win over top-seeded Tarpon Springs and clinch a spot in the playoffs. She added 23 points in a loss to Mitchell in the district title game.
Taylor Meek, Mitchell soccer: The junior forward scored a hat trick to propel the Mustangs to a 6-0 victory over Nature Coast and into the state semifinals for the first time.
Cassidy O’Brien, Sickles basketball: The senior transfer from North Carolina scored 24 points to lift the top-seeded Gryphons to a 67-58 victory over Strawberry Crest in the 6A-11 tournament final Friday.
Niaya White, Boca Ciega basketball: The freshman guard had a good run in the 5A-12 district tournament. In a 57-47 upset of No. 2 seed Bradenton Southeast, she scored 21 points and made 13 of 18 free throws. She added 11 points in a 41-34 loss to Lakewood in the district final.
Thomas Burke, River Ridge wrestling: In the Class 2A, District 8 meet, he had two takedowns late in the third to force overtime and come away with a win over Tarpon Springs’ Connor Menendez and help his team secure the district championship.
Donavan Hale, Largo basketball: Sophomore led his team in scoring with 20 points to beat Seminole and secure a spot in PCAC title game. He followed that with 21 points to beat St. Petersburg in the conference championship. It was Largo’s first PCAC title since 1999.
Devin Harris, Jesuit basketball: The rangy point guard totaled 38 points, 19 rebounds and eight steals in two of his team’s biggest wins of the season — against state-ranked 4A foes Berkeley Prep and Tampa Catholic. Senior had 19 both games, including a double double (19 points, 10 boards) against TC. For good measure, he went a combined 14-for-16 from the free-throw line.
Josh Page, East Lake soccer: Page broke a 1-all tie against Newsome in the Class 5A region semifinals with a goal in the final minutes. Then he scored again seconds later to help the Eagles to a 3-1 win. He also had game winners in the district semifinal and final.
Connor Spencer, Sunlake soccer: The sophomore forward scored two goals and assisted on the other two to lead his team to a dramatic 4-2 win over Mitchell in the Class 3A region quarterfinals.
Luis Zapata, Plant soccer: The senior notched his first career hat trick in the Panthers’ 4-0 region quarterfinal win over St. Petersburg.
Give us a shout at email@example.com if you have a Hot Shot we should consider next week.