TAMPA — Five months have passed since Chivarsky Corbett announced he was walking away from his career as Tampa Catholic's starting quarterback, but his deep ball is more accurate than ever.
Now a full-time Crusaders basketball player with a verbal offer from USF, Corbett scored a career-best 34 points — including five 3-pointers — in his 7-1 team's 88-49 romp of Kissimmee Life Christian in Thursday's opening round of the City of Tampa Championship.
"I miss the Friday nights," said Corbett, a 6-foot-6 junior who added he attended only about three Crusaders football games this past fall. "But basketball is the most fun."
Thursday's blowout, which ended with a running clock, provided compelling evidence that a basketball-centric Corbett — 17 points from 1,000 for his career — has a boundless ceiling.
After partaking of his pre-game ritual (a Chick-fil-A chicken biscuit), Corbett went 13-for-19 from the floor, collected seven rebounds and three blocks, dunked off an alley-oop (from Isiah Thomas) and brandished his newfound touch (5-for-8) from behind the arc.
"He could be really, really good," TC coach Don Dziagwa said. "Not taking anything away from playing football. But not playing football, he's had more of an opportunity to work on his individual skills."
Corbett's regimen includes rising at 5:45 a.m. at least three days a week and getting to the Crusaders' gym from his New Tampa home by 6:30. Before school, he'll hoist at least 1,000 shots with the assistance of TC's shooting machine.
"My mom, she wanted me to keep playing (football); (so did) the coaches, the players," said Corbett, who threw for 1,800 yards in two seasons as TC's quarterback. "Basketball, I loved it always, so I play it."
In Thursday's other opening-round games, Robinson (10-3) put three players in double figures — led by junior Mike Cholas' 17 — in a 57-49 win against Chamberlain (8-3). Center Travis Forehand, a 6-5 sophomore, had all 10 of his points in the second half.
Tourney host Tampa Prep got 16 points from USF-bound point guard Josh Heath and 14 from Furman-bound center Adonis Rwabigwi in a 68-29 rout of Blake. In the other first-rounder, Sarasota Cardinal Mooney slipped past Plant 52-47.
Berkeley's adjustments pay off
CLEARWATER — After playing away from the basket for much of the first half, Berkeley Prep coach Bobby Reinhart wanted his players to move closer. On defense, he wanted his small guys with quick feet to cut off driving lanes. On offense, he wanted his players to bulldoze toward easy, inside shots.
It all worked to perfection.
The Bucs kept their perfect record intact with a solid third quarter, scoring 27 points and getting Boca Ciega into foul trouble, for a 75-70 victory in the first round of the Brighthouse Tournament.
"That first half, we were taking too many outside shots," Reinhart said. "We need to pick up our intensity on defense and play near the rim."
By staying aggressive inside, Berkeley (11-0) was able to draw fouls. The Pirates (9-1) committed 10 of them in the third quarter, which sent the Bucs into the double-bonus.
That resulted in plenty of trips to the free-throw line for Berkeley, which scored 19 from there. Marshall Holmes (17 points) and Justin Grey (15) took on the bulk of the scoring and helped the Bucs go up by as many as 12 in the fourth quarter.
For Boca Ciega, the deficit had grown large and time was running out.
In those final minutes, the Pirates had to find some formula, some strategy in which to regroup. Boca Ciega's unbeaten record and its pursuit of respect against one of the best teams in Hillsborough County was in the balance.
The Pirates turned to Dallas Moore and Michael Clark to ignite a rally. Both slashed to the basket for layups as they chipped away at the deficit.
With 28 seconds remaining, Boca Ciega trailed 73-65. Moore darted to the basket for a layup. The Pirates got a steal on the next possession, and Caleb McCullough stepped back to hit a 3-pointer with 12 seconds left to make it 73-70.
Boca Ciega got another steal, and Moore heaved a 3-pointer with three seconds remaining — that clanked off the rim.
Grey got the rebound, was fouled and hit his two free throws to seal the game.
Moore led all scorers with 25 points, including three 3-pointers. Clark added 19.
"Our kids showed great effort to come back," Pirates coach Randy Shuman said.
"We just didn't execute when we needed to."
Other first-round games: Armin Tabacovic scored 17 points and Rasim Avmet 16 to lead host Clearwater over Alonso 68-46. The Ravens were led by Greg Robinson, who scored 14. … Strawberry Crest broke open a close game by outscoring Mitchell 18-10 in the third quarter to earn a 59-51 win. Devin Diggs (14 points) and Malik Channer (13) led the Chargers. … Gainesville kept Nature Coast at bay throughout for a 49-45 win.
Times staff writer Bob Putnam contributed to this report.