Make us your home page
Instagram

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

(View our Privacy Policy)

District boys basketball: Wharton escapes with fifth straight title

Jack Taylor’s 13 second-half points help spark the Wildcats to their fifth straight championship win.

CHRIS PRICE | Times

Jack Taylor’s 13 second-half points help spark the Wildcats to their fifth straight championship win.

TAMPA — Jack Taylor picked up Wharton for the entire second half to lift the Wildcats to their fifth consecutive district title.

And after the game, it was his turn to get picked up — by teammate Chase Litton in a celebratory bear hug.

Taylor scored 13 of his team-high 18 points in the second half to lead Wharton to a 40-37 victory in the Class 8A, District 7 championship at Alonso.

"Jack definitely stepped up and got us kick-started," Wharton coach Tommy Tonelli said.

Taylor's late surge was necessary after Wharton (19-6) struggled through one of its worst halves of the season.

Newsome (16-9) led for most of the game's first 23 minutes. Five Wolves scored in the first quarter while the Wildcats sputtered. Wharton missed 15 of its first 17 shots and had almost as many turnovers (five) as points (six) through the midway point of the second quarter.

"We felt like we couldn't have struggled any more offensively than we did," Tonelli said.

Auden Tate sparked Wharton in the second half with a steal and layup 30 seconds into the third quarter, and Taylor took over from there.

His three-point play cut Wharton's deficit to 19-17, and his bucket off of a Litton pass gave the Wildcats a 24-22 lead with 1:21 left in the third. Wharton never trailed again.

Newsome trailed by seven with three minutes left before mounting a final charge. Hayden Harkins banked in a 3-pointer with 37 seconds left that trimmed Wharton's lead to 40-37.

The Wolves had three more chances to tie the score but missed them all, including a half-court shot at the buzzer that slammed off the backboard.

Tate finished with seven points and seven rebounds for Wharton, and Litton added five points and eight rebounds after missing most of the last two weeks with a severe ankle injury.

Anthony Gamble led Newsome with eight points, and Jeff Povelones and Harkins finished with seven points apiece for the Wolves.

7A-8: Patriots nab first title since 2005

TAMPA — The test had three parts for Freedom.

Play aggressive defense, limit Sickles 6-foot-8 senior Bryce Nickels and make the extra pass on offense. The Patriots aced all three in a 50-39 victory Friday night for the Class 7A, District 8 championship.

No. 2 Freedom (16-6) never trailed, using an early 9-0 run to take control for its first district title since 2005.

Freedom's inside passing game produced 50 percent shooting (21 of 42), and the defense was equally solid. Nickels, a Youngstown State commit, scored only four points as No. 1 Sickles shot 28 percent from the field (13 of 46).

"I tried to stress all year to be unselfish and make the extra pass," Freedom coach Cedric Smith said. "Toward the middle of the year, the guys started believing in it and started seeing the results.

"We wanted to keep the defensive intensity up. We didn't want (Nickels) to get doing, and Sickles' guards (Jaaron Barrett and Isaac Holder) are really good. We guarded the 3 (point line) very well."

Freedom 6-8 senior center Malik Robinson was the centerpiece for Freedom's inside passing game and instrumental in shutting down Nickels.

"No. 21 (Nickels) is their factor player," Robinson said. "Without him, they don't win. We tried to play smart, play aggressive and stop (Nickels)."

Miguel Rojas led Freedom with 14 points, 12 in the first half. Barrett and Holder each scored 11 for Sickles.

Don Jensen, Times correspondent

Region quarterfinals

7 p.m. Thursday

8A: Newsome at St. Petersburg

8A: Palm Harbor University at Wharton

7A: Sickles at Strawberry Crest

7A: Brandon at Freedom

6A: TBD*

5A: Robinson at Lakewood

5A: Gibbs at Jesuit

4A: Tampa Catholic at Avon Park

4A: Frostproof at Berkeley Prep

3A: TBD*

2A: Cambridge at Bayshore Christian

*Finals today

District boys basketball: Wharton escapes with fifth straight title 02/07/14 [Last modified: Friday, February 7, 2014 11:32pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Steven Souza Jr. snaps out of slump as Rays defeat Angels (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — After Tuesday's shutout loss to the Angels, Steven Souza Jr. stood in front of his locker and talked about his need to contribute to the offense.

    Tampa Bay Rays catcher Jesus Sucre (45) hugs right fielder Steven Souza Jr. (20) in the dugout after his two run home run in the second inning of the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Los Angeles Angels at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, May 24, 2017.
  2. Tom Jones: Rays made right move sending Blake Snell to minors

    The Heater

    tom jones' two cents

    ST. PETERSBURG

    Blake Snell’s struggles on the mound were only one of the reasons the Rays sent him to the minors; some other red flags existed. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
  3. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Wednesday's Rays-Angels game

    The Heater

    Rookie RHP Ryne Stanek has had his early struggles, but Wednesday he showed his high-octane potential, working around a one-out walk to strike out the mighty Mike Trout (on a 98.4 mph fastball) and legendary Albert Pujols (98.7), both swinging.

  4. Rays journal: More bullpen changes as Diego Moreno heads to DL

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays bullpen has another new look.

    Rays reliever Diego Moreno, pitching Sunday against the Yankees, heads the DL with shoulder bursitis.
  5. ACC baseball tournament: FSU beats Notre Dame on 12th-inning HR

    Colleges

    LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Jackson Lueck hit his second two-run home run of the game in the 12th inning, lifting Florida State past Notre Dame 5-3 on Wednesday at a rainy ACC baseball tournament.

    Florida State outfielder Jackson Lueck (2) connects for a game-winning home run in the 12th inning during game 4 of the 2017 ACC Baseball Tournament in Louisville, Ky., Wednesday, May 24, 2017. (Wade Payne/theACC.com via AP)