MORE from our HomeTeam writers.
ST. PETERSBURG — Demontrae Adams was among the players who rushed the floor after another stunning victory in last week’s region final sent St. Petersburg to the state final four for the first time in 40 years.
But after the revelry, reality returned for Adams, who took time to reflect on the one person not there to enjoy the celebration: Tim Davis, his brother.
The big brother Adams followed to the courts when they were children was sentenced this year to five years in prison for aggravated assault with a weapon.
“I wanted to get to the final four for my brother because he was never able to make it,” said Adams, who will travel to Lakeland with St. Petersburg today for a Class 7A state semifinal against Pompano Beach Blanche Ely.
Davis, 29, played at Pinellas Park and was named first-team, all-conference in 2001. But he only got to the playoffs once as a freshman in 1997. The Patriots lost in the first round.
“Tim was a real good player who shot the ball well,” said Gibbs coach Larry Murphy, who coached Davis his last two seasons at Pinellas Park. “There are a lot of similarities between Tim and Demontrae with their style of play. Both are athletic and look to shoot the jumper.”
Adams developed his game by playing pickup games with his older brother on courts throughout the city. When Davis was in high school, Adams would often tag along.
“My older brother pretty much taught me the game,” Adams said. “We played all the time, mostly with his friends. I’ve always played against guys older than me. I went to a lot of his games, too.”
That bond took a blow when Davis was sentenced Jan. 20. It was hard for Adams to concentrate on basketball, and it showed in his play. He was erratic — and so were the Green Devils during a late-January stretch in which they lost three straight games, including a stunning defeat to Dixie Hollins.
“I believe the trials that Demontrae’s brother was going through at the time weighed heavily on him,” St. Petersburg coach Chris Blackwell said. “You could see it in his play. He just came out flat at that time. But so was everyone else. The game was just a struggle for us at that time.”
Adams pushed the Green Devils (23-8) and kept them whole through his own crisis. By the time the district tournament rolled around, Adams was playing a different game on another level. He led his team in scoring in the district semifinals and finals. And he was an impact player during region play.
In Saturday’s 77-76 region final victory over Stuart Martin County, with his team trailing by one in the final 15 seconds, Adams hit both free throws to give his team the lead for good.
“That was a real memorable moment for me,” Adams said. “We all wanted to be the last team in Pinellas County still standing. A lot of teams never get that chance to be where we are right now. I know my brother didn’t. We’re all trying to do it for them.”
Adams said he tries to visit his brother as much as possible but was unable to this week.
“It’s been hard because we have so much going on leading up to the state tournament,” Adams said. "But I sent him a letter and the article with me from our last game. I know he would be there if he could.”
Class 7A: St. Petersburg vs. Pompano Beach Blanche Ely
When/where: 4 p.m. Friday. The Lakeland Center
Admission: $10 per session; parking is $7
TV: BHSN will air the finals
On the Web: We’ll be live blogging this semifinal.