Player of the year: C Tyler Bergantino, Sr., Nature Coast
Tyler Bergantino’s love of superheroes shouldn’t surprise anyone who watched him rescue Nature Coast this season.
If any teammate let an opponent drive past him, Bergantino was there waiting, ready to swat the shot away and save a basket.
“He makes up for a lot of mistakes we make defensively,” said Sharks coach David Pisarcik after Bergantino’s 22-point, 11-rebound, three-block performance in the region semifinals.
“He’s been doing it all year. He’s been doing it for four years.”
The 6-foot-9 hulk dominated the middle more than perhaps any player in North Suncoast history.
Bergantino racked up more than 1,600 career points and averaged 17.2 per game while shooting 69 percent from the field as a senior. He exploded for a season-high 32 points against Wesley Chapel in the playoffs.
He was able to leap small teammates for a single rebound, pulling down 13.6 boards this winter. And he averaged 5.6 blocks in his final season while swatting almost 500 shots over his past three seasons.
Bergantino’s individual performances gave him a basketball scholarship to UMass and took his team to new heights, including a 29-2 record this past winter. The young program advanced to the elite eight each of the past two seasons before Bergantino finally carried the Sharks to the Class 5A state semifinals this year. He barely missed a triple double in his only game at Lakeland, finishing with 17 points, 11 rebounds and nine blocks.
“Hopefully,” Bergantino said of his team’s run to state, “everyone will remember it for a very long time.”
Coach of the year: Joe Fenlon, Tampa Prep
Had the Class 3A state final been staged a few hours later, Joe Fenlon literally could have ridden off into the sunset. Tampa Prep’s 29-year coach, surrogate dad and — yes — bus driver (he has a chauffeur’s license) captured his first state crown in eight final four tries the morning of March 1. After that 58-50 championship win against Weston Sagemont at the Lakeland Center, Fenlon loaded the 31-1 Terrapins onto the team’s 18-seat Blue Bird and honked as he drove away.
G Devontae Morgan, Sr., Tampa Prep: Butler signee is a Florida Mr. Basketball finalist.
G Gary Simon, Sr., Gibbs: Two-sport star was Pinellas County’s player of the year.
G Josh Heath, Jr., Tampa Prep: Was absolute money (36 points, 16 assists) at state tourney.
G Dallas Moore, Jr., Boca Ciega: Averaged a Pinellas County-best 25 points per game.
F Justin Gray, So., Berkeley Prep: Top scorer, rebounder, shot blocker of 4A final four team.
F Tre Leonard, Sr., Robinson
G Reginald Hart, Jr., Chamberlain
G Ryan Green, Jr., St. Petersburg Catholic
G Jack Fleming, Jr., Jesuit
F Rico Kerney, Jr., Wiregrass Ranch
Academy at the Lakes: Ethan Haslam
Anclote: Brandon McWhorter
Berkeley Prep: Nelson Agholor
Boca Ciega: Michael Clark
East Bay: Dario Duque
East Lake: Jeremy Mogged
Hernando: Terrance Owens
Hudson: Jamal Branco
Jesuit: Travis Johnson
Land O’Lakes: Ernest McClendon
Mitchell: Jake Driscoll
Nature Coast: Blake Lowman
Seminole: Noah Weller
Shorecrest: Luke Blume, Ricky Quiroz
St. Petersburg: Demontrae Adams, Dayon Griffin, David Jones
Strawberry Crest: Brandon Channer
Wesley Chapel: Erik Thomas
Wharton: C.J. McGill
Wiregrass Ranch: Chris Parra