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. The Bloomingdale's that a Ruth baseball built

    The Heater

    NEW YORK — A treasure, possibly worth half a million dollars, could lie behind a granite slab at the base of the Bloomingdale's flagship store in Manhattan in New York City, just a few feet from a window displaying designer handbags: a baseball signed by Babe Ruth.

    According to reports from 1930, this cornerstone of Bloomingdale's flagship store in New York City could have a baseball signed by Babe Ruth and other items entombed with instructions not to open for 200 years. The Ruth ball, if there and in good condition, could be worth a record $500,000. [ New York Times]
  2. U.S. repeats as Solheim Cup champion


    WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — Lexi Thompson set the tone by rallying from four holes down. The rest of the Americans took it from there and restored their dominance in the Solheim Cup

    Lexi Thompson, left, comes back from four holes down to halve the day’s first singles match with Europe’s Anna Nordqvist to set the tone for the United States.
  3. Rays see the Blake Snell they've been waiting for in win over Mariners

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — It was a one-run game Sunday when the Mariners' Robinson Cano singled with one out in the seventh inning, bringing the dangerous Nelson Cruz to the plate.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) throwing in the third inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017.
  4. Bucs journal: Demar Dotson (mild groin strain) expected back for opener


    TAMPA — The Bucs got good news Sunday on starting right tackle Demar Dotson, whose MRI exam showed only a mild right groin sprain and who should be back at practice next week.

    Tackle Demar Dotson has only a mild groin strain.
  5. Bucs counting on better health creating better pass rush


    TAMPA — Ask Bucs coaches about the improved depth and health of their defensive line, and they'll look around for a piece of wood to knock on.

    Retired All-Pro defensive end  Simeon Rice, right, the last Buc to have double-digit sacks in a season,  works with defensive end Ryan Russell, who last season was promoted from the practice squad for the second half of the year as injuries piled up. He is competing for a backup job this year.