I'm so excited about the Pasco-Robinson football game tonight, I didn't know what to do with myself this morning, so I started writing.
And writing. And writing some more.
So, uh, welcome to the biggest darned Morning Meanderings of the season. Maybe it's a good thing everyone doesn't call in their boxscores.
(Of course, I jest. Really, call them in: 727-893-8123)
(And while you're at it, get at me on Twitter @JohnnyHomeTeam, or drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Okay, I'm done talking in parentheses.
Let's do this thing:
PLAYER OF THE NIGHT
Sam Flagg, Plant's 5-foot-10 senior point guard, came into Plant's game Thursday against Newsom having missed, in two games, all six of his shots. Five of those were misses from 3-point range. All three of his points came from the free-throw line.
In fact, if you include the 26 games he played last season, Flagg only had 16 points in the past two seasons.
So what did he do Thursday night? Well, he made two 3-pointers (the second and third of his career), made all four of his free throws and matched his season total from a year ago with 16 points in a 44-26 Plant win.
Bravo, Mr. Flagg.
TEAM OF THE NIGHT
Watching the Wiregrass Ranch boys play basketball is a lot like watching someone play pinball -- the ball never stops moving, bounces in directions you sometimes don't expect and the scoreboard lights, when the Bulls are on their game, tend to flash.
But they can be fun to watch, and Thursday night they rallied from 18 points down to top Nature Coast Tech 65-63 in a thriller.
The Bulls go out every night trying to score 100, something they did twice last year, though they lost both games. In fact, it's when the Bulls play their better defensive game that they have success -- last year they were 13-1 when holding opponents to 70 or fewer points, and are now 2-0 this year doing the same.
When allowing more than 70? Just 4-10.
But they held the Sharks under that magic number Thursday, and got their points from Rico Kerney (25) and Christian Parra (17) to win a big one.
STAT OF THE NIGHT
Parr and Kerney combined to shoot 46 times, and neither player made it to the free throw line even once. Wow.
GAME OF THE NIGHT
In a battle of unbeaten girls team opening up district play, Steinbrenner wiped out an eight-point halftime deficit and pulled out a 56-55 win over Strawberry Crest.
The Warriors (5-0) had to overcome the loss of forward Rachel Briere, their second-leading scorer and rebounder, who left early with a shoulder injury. But once they settled in, they rode Bailey Hooker's four second-half 3-pointers and 21 points to victory.
The Chargers (5-1) had a chance to win it, but their inbounds pass attempt with 3.4 seconds left was picked off by Justice Thigpen to secure the win.
Strawberry Crest was led by junior Aliyah Gregory, whose smooth play had college scouts scribbling furiously in their notebooks I am told.
St. Petersburg Catholic's Ryan Green, who averaged more than 20 points a game last season but had shoulder surgery and missed most of this past football season, has been cleared to play basketball and will make his season debut tonight against Indian Rocks Christian. We will finally see the Barons, who were expected to be one of the area's better boys teams, close to full strength for the first time.
BIG BANK (SHOT) TAKE LITTLE BANK (SHOT)?
A couple of prospective Division-I defensive ends got theirs Thursday night.
Mike Love, who is definitely playing football at the next level, scored 17 points in Countryside's win.
And up at Nature Coast, the Sharks couldn't hold a big lead but Rohan Blackwood almost made sure they did. If you're wondering why Blackwood is torn between hoops and football, it's because he can do this on a basketball court: 25 points, 11 rebounds and five steals.
ON THE SPOT
The Lakewood girls led Largo last night 67-0 at the half, before winning 87-3. So I called Necole Tunsil to find out if that was a real score, and it is. Which led to this conversation:
ME: You need to beef up that schedule. Get some good local teams on there. Just saying, but I think Seffner Christian might be able to beat you.
NECOLE: No way. But set it up. I have an extra game. Set it up.
So, uh, Seffner Christian.... call me (I'm holding my hand up to me ear like so)
Newsome outscored Plant in three of four quarters Thursday night, and led by five at halftime. But the one quarter that Newsome did not outscore Plant, the Wolves were outscored 28-8. As a result, Plant pulled out the 63-52 win behind 25 points from Reggine Brown. The Wolves got a great effort from junior Lauren Boerger, who had 15 points and 12 steals, and K.K. Smith, who also scored 15, but it wasn't enough to stop the Panthers from winning their fourth straight game.
FREEBIES FOR FREEDOM?
Freedom held Chamberlain's high-scoring Reggie Hart to only nine points in the Class 7A-9 district opener for both teams, but made only 2 of 11 free throws. I think you know where I'm going with this.
Final score: Chamberlain 45, Freedom 44.
Rashawn Fredericks had 14 for the Chiefs, and Stephen Odunna led the Patriots with 15.
1. Brittany Betts scored 28 points and made five 3-pointers, but Mitchell used Ashley Lewis' 21 points to eke out the overtime win.
2. Sabrina Whiting scored 31 points, six assists and five steals for Seffner Christian, outdueling Academy of the Holy Names' Ashley McWilliams, who had 26, in a Crusader win.
3. Darnell Lovett sank a trio of threes (say that three times real fast) and scored 27 points as Countryside moved to 2-0. Both Cougar wins have been by 23 points.
4. One day, I will make an Obi Wan Kenobi joke, if the far geekier Matt Baker, our fine Pasco/Hernando scribe, doesn't beat me to it. But I'm waiting for the right moment. Anyway, Victor Obi had 18 and his brother Michael had 20 in Land O'Lakes' 62-49 win over Springstead.
5. Charlisa Jenkins led Admiral Farragut to a 4-0 start with 16 points in an easy victory.
6. Meagan Thomas dropped in 20 points, and the Dixie Hollins defense shut out Dunedin in two quarters to roll to a win.
7. Joey Nickerson scored 20 for Gulf in a 52-39 win
8. Aspen Hedges plunked down 14 points for Northeast, enough to get the Vikings a win over Countryside.
9. Alicia Artley and Meghan Tate scored 18 each in Fivay's 49-45 win over Zephyrhills, overcoming 21 points by Bulldog Aaliyah Mckenzie.
10. Haley Gossard scored 19 for Northside Christian. The Mustangs won.
11. Craig Bowman scored 17 points and had eight steals as Berkeley Prep beat Admiral Farragut to remain perfect, overcoming a 3-for-19 night from 3-point range.
13. Jay Joyer, a promising 6-foot-8 junior center, scored 18 for Shorecrest in its 74-67 win.
No Meanderings Saturday, I'll be sleeping after a long night writing a column from the football game and producing another scintillating episode of Friday Night Rewind, which I expect you all to watch, but drop me a note, tell me what I missed.