Player of the Year
Sasha Chaplin, SPC, Senior, Forward
More often than not, St. Petersburg Catholic's Sasha Chaplin sweeps past other players who lack either the height or quickness — or both — to offer more than a token resistance.
Chaplin, a 6-foot-3 forward, usually gets herself in prime post-up position, then turns and drops the ball in the net as casually as if she were placing a book on a shelf.
It is that apparent ease that has caused Chaplin's superiority to be taken for granted. While acrobatic slashers in the area create a new move every time they take to the basket, there is a repetitiveness to Chaplin's dominance that is almost numbing. Amid the spectacles presented each night by other stars, it's easy to forget that dumping the ball inside to Chaplin is as sure an offensive play as there is in girls basketball.
Chaplin averaged 16 points, nine rebounds and five blocks. But that doesn't tell the whole story. She was dominant when it mattered most. In the Indian Rocks Christian tournament, Chaplin scored 28 points and grabbed 17 rebounds in a victory over Boca Ciega.
In her career, Chaplin set a slew of school records and kept the Barons among the elite programs in the area. About the only thing she wasn't able to do was lead her team to a state title.
"Of course I wish I could have won a state title," Chaplin said. "But overall, I'm happy with what I was able to do at St. Petersburg Catholic."
Bob Putnam, Times staff writer
Coach of the Year | Warren Jones, Wesley Chapel
Jones truly used coaching to mold a blue-collar roster into a team capable of playing with the state's best. His girls fed off the belief that few teams respected them in the wake of losing all-time leading scorer Sthefany Thomas, now a freshman at Clemson. Jones convinced the girls they could succeed without Thomas, and they went to the first region final in school history, falling 55-37 to Winter Haven. They matched the school record for wins at 24-5.
|Shawnta Snakovsky||G||Sickles||Sr.||The 5-foot-7 standout averaged 19.9 points and 6.2 steals for a 20-win team.|
|LaTavia Dempsey||G||Boca Ciega||So.||The Pirates' sharpshooter also was a savvy floor leader and a big reason the Pirates made the state semifinals for the first time since 1999.|
|Tamara Taylor||G||Boca Ciega||Fr.||She has the ability to put the ball into the hoop from long distances. Her 3-point shooting was big down the stretch. In the region final, she made eight against Clearwater.|
|Kayli Keough||F||Land O'Lakes||Sr.||The Florida State signee averaged 18.9 points, 8.9 rebounds and 3.9 blocks.|
|Kerah Nelson||F||Lakewood||Sr.||With the graduation of four starters, Nelson became the Spartans' go-to girl, averaging 24 points and leading the Spartans to the region semifinals.|
Cherikhan Waddy, G, Nature Coast, Sr.
Paris Moore, G, Bloomingdale, Sr.
Michelle Taylor, G, Plant, So.
Kate Carl, G, Keswick Chr., Sr.
Tory Stephens, G, Boca Ciega, Jr.
Blake: Chanele Patton; Clearwater: Keona Dixon, J'Beria Davis; Dunedin: Cara Trudell; Freedom: Charlet Davis; Gulf: Jordan Schulman; Hillsborough: Shalisia Hall; Holy Names: Katie Davis; King: Samara Shepherd; Largo: Egypt Thomas; Nature Coast: Shareka Maner; Ridgewood: Jen Daun; Sickles: Katie MacKenzie; St. Petersburg Catholic: Jerica Cooley; Tampa Bay Tech: Andrea Bridges; Tampa Catholic: Colette Eule; Wesley Chapel: Ashley Carey.
Player of the Year
Mike Morrison, Lakewood, Senior, Forward
Quality back-to-the-basket play has been a staple in the Morrison household.
Sean and Marcus Morrison were masters of the complex choreography of drop steps, up-and-unders, seals and counters. Their low-post artistry helped Lakewood stay among the elite and win state titles in 2002 and 2005.
Mike Morrison knows all about the legacy.
The 6-foot-9 senior inherited the role as the Spartans' main threat down low. In four seasons, he turned himself into a pivoting, pump-faking human instructional video around the basket.
This season, Morrison was a principal offensive option, getting the ball in the low post against Pinellas County's bigger men. He averaged 15 points.
But Morrison doesn't just score. He relishes all the other exercises, including rebounding, blocking shots, passing and risking organ damage in pursuit of loose balls.
The bigger the game, the better Morrison played. He was dominant in the region final against Pinellas Park and was the best player on the floor against Brandon in the state semifinals.
About the only thing he wasn't able to do was lead his team to a state title, which his older brothers did.
But he did continue the tradition of power pivotmen in the Morrison household.
"Without Mike, we wouldn't have been able to go as far as we did," coach Dan Wright said.
Bob Putnam, Times staff writer
Coach of the Year | Dan Wright, Lakewood
After graduating three starters, many wondered how Lakewood would do this season. Wright, a master motivator and skillful technician, helped answer that by leading the Spartans back to the state championship game, where they lost to state-ranked Fort Lauderdale Dillard. It was the first time in Lakewood's history that the boys basketball program has made back-to-back state title games.
|Sheldon Cooley||G||Plant||Jr.||He was among the Hillsborough County leaders in scoring (22.1) and rebounding (8.7).|
|Cam Carden||G||Pin. Park||Sr.||Carden became the school's all-time leading scorer and was instrumental in helping transform Pinellas Park from a longtime loser into a bigtime winner.|
|Jake Troyli||F||Pin. Park||Sr.||At 6-10, he gave the Patriots much-needed height and came up big in the clutch, including going 10-for-10 from the line in the district final against Clearwater.|
|Luke Loucks||G||Clearwater||Sr.||The Florida State recruit was the Tornadoes' best player and took over some games with big performances against Pinellas Park, Ridgewood and Lakewood in the regular season.|
|Adam Sollazzo||G||Armwood||Sr.||The East Tennessee State recruit averaged 21.7 points, 6.3 assists and six rebounds.|
Lukas Poderis, C, Ridgewood, Jr.
David Waller, F, Tampa Prep, Sr.
Blake Allen, G, Brandon, Sr.
Tracy Parks, G, SPC, Sr.
Reggie Reed, G, Lakewood, Sr.
Berkeley Prep: Archie Barnes, Johnathan Gray; Bloomingdale: Callum Townsend; Brandon: Evan Ravenel; Calvary Chr.: Christian Bibi Ndongo; Clearwater: Adam Pegg; Clearwater Central Catholic: Eric Segert; Dixie Hollins: Devonta Davis; Hudson: Jarrod Branco; Gaither: Kornilous Donnell; King: Toarlyn Fitzpatrick; Land O'Lakes: Jerome Harrison; Nature Coast: Joe Silvestri; Oldsmar Chr.: Chris Perez; Pasco: Demetrious Larry; Plant City: Channing Woodall; Ridgewood: Mike Lawrence.