Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Boys basketball region preview: Tampa Prep ready to apply pressure

Coach Joe Fenlon devotes a lot of practice time to defense. “Every game we’ve won the past month, we’ve won it because of our defense,” says Fenlon, in his 26th year at Tampa Prep.


Coach Joe Fenlon devotes a lot of practice time to defense. “Every game we’ve won the past month, we’ve won it because of our defense,” says Fenlon, in his 26th year at Tampa Prep.


The running joke with the Tampa Prep basketball team is that winning games this season has been a track meet to 50 points — whichever team gets there first is victorious. While the Terrapins first believed that meant filling the net, they've learned that it has more to do with stopping the other team from doing exactly that. And longtime Tampa Prep coach Joe Fenlon constantly reminds his team of that fact. As the Terrapins prepared for their Class 2A region final against Community School of Naples with a recent practice, Fenlon's voice rang out during a drill in which the Terps take charges and chase down loose balls.

"On Saturday, the game will be won on defense," Fenlon yelled.

Since Nov. 8, he has drilled that message into his players' heads. He constantly tells them he doesn't need five players scoring 15 points. He needs all five playing solid defense. And over the past month, the team has bought into that. Taking a charge is a badge of honor, and six players in the Terps' nine-man rotation, including all five starters, average at least 1.6 steals.

"We all buy into it," said junior forward Jay Bowie, a transfer from Middleton who averages 14.6 points, 10.7 rebounds and a team-high 2.3 steals. "A lot of what we do comes out of transition. We play with a whole lot of energy and try to wear our opponents down."

Fenlon, in his 26th year at Tampa Prep, says this is one of the quickest teams he has ever had, especially with the addition of Bowie, Wharton transfer Jordan Heath (son of USF men's basketball coach Stan Heath) and freshman Devontae Morgan, who all add to the Terps' transition game.

"Every game we've won the past month, we've won it because of our defense," Fenlon said. "Yeah, we were fortunate to score points, but a lot of our points were scored from our defense with transition baskets, a turnover or a deflection."

And that's how the Terps (25-4) will have to play against Community School (23-4), which Tampa Prep beat in the region final two years ago to get to its most recent final four.

"Defense was key in that game, too," said junior forward Jamal Cherry, the Terps' leading scorer who played in the game two years ago and often guards the opposition's best player. "In the third quarter, we shut them down and that helped us win the game. I think that experience will help us out."

fast facts

Region finals

When/where: 7 tonight

Cost: $6

Class 5A

Daytona Beach Seabreeze (18-7) at King (22-6)

Class 2A

Tampa Prep (25-4) at

Community School of Naples (23-4)

More than points

Adhering to coach Joe Fenlon's defense-first philosophy, every Tampa Prep starter averages at least 1.6 steals a game:

Player PPG SPG

Jamal Cherry 14.9 1.8

Jay Bowie 14.6 2.3

Jake Haslam 10.7 1.7

Devontae Morgan 7.1 1.6

Jordan Heath 3.1 1.6

Inside the game

Taking a closer look at how Tampa Prep and Naples Community School match up, the Terrapins lead the Seahawks in four of five key categories:

Average Naples

per TampaCommunity

game Prep School

Points 68.9 62.7

Rebounds 35.9 33.9

Assists 18.3 15.4

Steals 13.7 10.3

Blocks 2.7 4.0

Boys basketball region preview: Tampa Prep ready to apply pressure 02/27/09 [Last modified: Friday, February 27, 2009 11:12pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. College World Series puts Florida Gators in elite company


    With Tuesday night's College World Series win, the Florida Gators put themselves in rare company.

    Florida celebrates after defeating LSU in Game 2 of the College World Series finals, Tuesday, in Omaha, Neb.
  2. Bucs like their offensive line, but PFF, not so much


    As the Bucs prepare for training camp and the buildup to the 2017 season, no position presents more of a he-said-she-said dichotomy than offensive line.

    The Bucs have confidence in third-year left tackle Donovan Smith (76) as well as right guard J.R. Sweezy and center Ali Marpet, shown during mandatory minicamp this month.
  3. Sign up for our new daily News at Noon email newsletter


    The Tampa Bay Times will soon launch a daily newsletter called News at Noon. You can make sure to be among the first to receive it by signing up now.

  4. Rays morning after: Why Alex Cobb was out of the game and Alex Colome was in


    Alex Cobb obviously did a really good job pitching the first eight innings for the Rays on Tuesday.

    Alex Cobb said he had no problem with the decision, even though he had what would have been the Rays first complete game since May 14, 2016, in his sights.