Here's the hottest boys and girls basketball news from Wednesday night, in one tight, humorously -- if not brilliantly written -- place. You will agree with me. Read on.
PLAYER OF THE NIGHT
Freedom's Taylor Emery can score. FACT. She scored 34 against Newsome on Dec. 3. Exactly one week later, she scored a career-high 41 against Tampa Bay Tech, leading the Patriots to a big win over the Titans, who came into the game with a 10-1 record.
Emery, who hasn't been held under double figures since her freshman year, found plenty of room around the basket to pour in points, and Freedom needed the confidence boost coming off back-to-back losses to Wiregrass Ranch and Sickles.
We'll see if Emery and the Patriots have their mojo back heading into tonight's showdown with Steinbrenner.
TEAM OF THE NIGHT
Oh sure, East Bay handed Lennard its first loss, and Chamberlain picked up a big win over Wharton, and the St. Petersburg girls laid it on Lakewood in a big way. But come on, y'all. YeeeeeeHAW! The Cowboys have picked up a win. After an 0-6 start, Gaither beat Alonso 53-48 Wednesday night for win No. 1. Jacob Paul led the Cowboys with 13, and Jeff Suarez and Adev Aarons added 12 each in the victory.
COACH OF THE NIGHT
Boca Ciega's Randy Shuman, one of our favorites here at the Meanderings, picked up the 500th victory of his career when his Pirates beat Countryside 57-44 at Bogie. Shuman coached Bogie to the 1994 Class 4A state championship, and had a final four team in 2002. From 1994-2006, Shuman won 11 straight first-round playoff games. And it only took him 24 seasons to get to 500, believed to be the fastest coach to do so in Pinellas County. Congrats, coach.
STAT OF THE NIGHT
Plant and Steinbrenner combined to shoot 79 free throws -- 79!!! -- in the Panther win.
I'm not saying that had to have taken a long time, but:
a. The game took a reported seven hours, 41 minutes to finish.
b. Plant football coach Robert Weiner showed up to watch, and finished 67 levels on Candy Crush Saga from tipoff to the final horn.
c. Three underclassmen went through puberty between the second and fourth quarters.
d. The scorekeeper was able to watch two of the Lord of the Rings movies while still accurately scoring the game.
(Note: I made all of those up, except for one. Can you guess which one?)
(Note: Fine. I made all of them up.)
NUMBER OF THE NIGHT: 41
The Plant City boys also shot 41 free throws in its victory, but since I used up all my long-game jokes, well...
DID YOU KNOW?
Steinbrenner's 66-32 win over the Plant girls was the worst loss for the Panthers since 2009, when Clearwater beat them 62-31 in the playoffs.
TOP 10 PERFORMERS
1. Do you remember who the Player of the Night was back on Dec. 5, 2012? It was back-to-back 26-point efforts that caught our eye back then. It was Anton Crutcher's 28 points in Wednesday's win over previously unbeaten Lennard that caught it this time. Crutcher missed the only loss of East Bay's season, due to football. But he's been working his way back, and exploded against the Longhorns. In the three games he had previously played this year, Crutcher had scored 28 points combined. Wednesday, he equaled that and pulled down 17 rebounds as well.
You can read all about East Bay's win, and Crutcher's performance, by clicking right here.
2. Let's give some love to the defense. While Andrew Sanders scored 19 points and had 11 rebounds, it was John Voiland that scored 16 while holding Steinbrenner's high-scoring Keshawn Ingram to 12 points through three quarters as the Panthers built a 57-37 lead. Ingram, who averages 27, would get his with 20 points in the fourth quarter to finish with 32, but long after the game had been decided.
3. I'm not sure Lennard junior Diontae Johnson was on the list of "Guys Who Should Score The Most Points Tonight" in Wednesday's game against East Bay. After all, he had missed his last 11 shots over two games coming into the contest, scoring two points. But sure enough -- Johnson led all Longhorns with a career-high 21.
4. Steinbrenner's Rachel Briere scored 17 to lead her Warriors to that stunning rout of Plant. Oh, and by the way, Steinbrenner is now 11-0.
5. Osceola junior Katie Horan is one of the area's better players, but has been slowed by injuries this season. Wednesday night, she scored 36 points, with 15 coming on three-pointers, and 15 coming from the free-throw line (in 21 attempts). Horan topped her previous career-high of 35, set last year on Dec. 18 against Dixie Hollins.
6. Chamberlain's Rashawn Fredericks has already been in the top 10 once this week. Let's make it two times, after another 19-point effort to lead the Chiefs past Wharton 54-42 for their fifth straight win.
7. Trai Halton scored 20 points to lead Tarpon Springs over Clearwater. Halton hit four three-pointers, giving him 11 from beyond the arc in the past three games for the 7-1 Spongers.
8. Hudson's senior point guard Luke Calleja scored a career-high 34 points in the Cobras 73-69 win over River Ridge, the night after scoring 30 against South Sumter.
9. Bria Bostick scored 33 in a win over Northeast, as Gibbs has emerged as south St. Petersburg's best girls team, right behind St. Petersburg.
10. Raeshon Dunbar made sure Shuman got win No. 500 at home, scoring 22 in Boca Ciega's 57-44 win.
10. Jordan Berenbaum scored 20 points, and St. Petersburg put a running block on Lakewood and remained undefeated.
BEST GAMES TONIGHT
Steinbrenner at Freedom girls: No love lost between these teams, making this one the better rivalries around. Freedom is 9-2 and coming off a win over Tampa Bay Tech; Steinbrenner is straight molten lava at 11-0, and have won their last three games by 44, 45 and 34 points.
Sickles at Wiregrass Ranch girls: The Gryphons are 7-1, and Wiregrass Ranch is 11-1. The only loss for both teams? To Steinbrenner.