This was supposed to be one of the best winters ever for Palm Harbor University, a season in which the boys basketball team would flourish behind a quartet of strong, skilled players — Chaz Green, Jordan Jones, Kevin McKellar and Tyler Stevenson.
It was enough for PHU to discuss making a run toward a playoff berth. Instead the season has provided only questions.
Before the season, Green and Jones transferred to Tampa Catholic and McKellar transferred to Boca Ciega.
That left Stevenson to handle most of the workload.
He has responded by averaging 19 points per game.
Stevenson, though, is an under-the-radar player who has been overshadowed by the county's other burly, frontcourt players, such as Oldsmar Christian's Harold Doby and Clearwater's Okaro White, and outshined by other scorers, such as Lakewood's Shamon Cox.
The spotlight doesn't seem to find Stevenson because he plays on a team that is 5-9 (through Wednesday).
Still, the box scores indicate Stevenson is making an impact.
When the Hurricanes faced double-digit deficits this season, Stevenson sparked the rally. When PHU has needed a big rebound or a big shot, Stevenson provided it.
"It made things tough when so many guys left," Stevenson said. "But you learn to move on. And I knew I was going to have to take on a different role."
Statistics alone fail to define Stevenson's determination. This season, he came back from a torn ACL and has battled diabetes.
He is not alone.
Don't overlook their efforts
There are more players who have been forgotten, the ones who walk — and dribble, pass and shoot — in the shadow of others.
Matthew O'Donnell, St. Petersburg Catholic
The junior guard has taken over as the Barons' long-range specialist, leading the team in points (14.8) and 3-pointers (43). Though SPC is 6-9*, O'Donnell led his team to an upset of Jesuit last month.
Tucker Pollard and Dino Tabakovic, Countryside
After starting 2-4, the Cougars are at .500 at 8-8*. Much of that has to do with the play of Pollard (17.3 points per game) and Tabakovic (15.9), the team's leading scorers.
Ben Patrick, Dunedin
The Largo transfer has been the lone bright spot for the Falcons, who are 4-12*. Patrick is the team's only scorer in double figures, averaging 16.7.
Tanner Wozniak, Keswick Christian
After shining in summer camps, Wozniak is doing the same for the 5-9* Crusaders, averaging 18.6 points.
Srdjan Jankovic, Pinellas Park
The Patriots are off to an 8-6* start thanks to the scoring of Jankovic (16.4 per game).
Flynn Bluett, Seminole
Another surprising team, the Warhawks are 7-6* behind Bluett, who is averaging 16.2 points.
* Records through Wednesday night