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)

Henson pushing Sickles to new heights

TAMPA — Aside from the prodigious basketball skills that have her an All-American at 16, the things that stand out about Sickles junior Amber Henson are her easy smile and infectious laugh.

And the way she blushes when Sickles boys basketball coach Renaldo Garcia walks by and says, "Go Gators" to Henson, one of the nation's top junior recruits. It's the former UF player's friendly way of nudging her to Gainesville.

"He does it every day," Henson says, laughing.

As easygoing as Henson is, her grasp of playing a more physical game this season has Sickles on its deepest postseason path in school history, and one win from the Gryphons' first state tournament.

Sickles (25-3) faces cross-the-bay power Boca Ciega (28-1), winner of 21 straight, in tonight's Class 5A region final. The winner advances to Wednesday's state semifinals at the Lakeland Center.

The 6-foot-4 Henson, who was named a Parade All-America fourth-team selection last year as a sophomore, plays the post because of her height, but this season, she has come into her own as a post player.

She said it's something her father, Matt, a former college player at Norfolk State, had been harping on for years — that combining her natural talent with a killer instinct creates a more complete player.

"Over the summer I spent more time in the weight room than in the gym, which really helped my game," Henson said. "… I started to notice I was getting more and-ones. That was the biggest factor, being able to finish with contact."

Gryphons coach Mark Key has noticed. Henson heads into tonight's game averaging 23.3 points, 11.9 rebounds and 5.1 blocks. She's averaging 28.5 points in two region tournament games.

"She's a big-time player and in our big games she's played big," Key said.

Both Henson and Key said that after moving to Tampa from Texas two summers ago, Henson is more comfortable with her role on the team. She's not afraid to be aggressive on the court and a leader off it.

"When I first got here, I had to kind of feel my way into it and see where I fit in," Henson said. "Now, I've become more of a leader so I can get on someone without them without them saying, 'Oh, here's this new girl.' "

This year, with a supporting cast that includes blossoming sophomores Bre Crum and Rachel Smith and stabilizing seniors Erica Early and Lindsey Botts, it has translated into Sickles' best season yet.

"We've really matured this year, we're taking better shots, we know how to finish games now," Henson said. "We just know how to win."

Henson, rated the fourth-best junior in the nation by ESPNU, said she plans to make her college decision this spring but her focus is on Lakeland.

"That would be like a dream come true right now," she said. "I could care less about the points and the awards and everything. My main goal right now is helping my team to states."

Henson pushing Sickles to new heights 02/19/10 [Last modified: Friday, February 19, 2010 11:08pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tony Dungy on Twitter: I'm donating $5K to move Confederate statue, Bucs, Rays and Lightning should act too

    Bucs

    Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach and Tampa resident Tony Dungy announced publicly today that he's contributing $5,000 to a fund to move a Confederate monument out of downtown Tampa.

  2. The legacy of Tim Tebow's baseball summer

    Minors

    CLEARWATER — It was about three weeks ago. A Saturday night. I sat behind home plate at a Charlotte Stone Crabs game at Charlotte Sports Park. There was a professional baseball scout sitting just behind me with a speed gun in his hand. He had seen the whole thing.

    Seth Bosch, left, of Punta Gorda, Fla., met Tim Tebow in Port Charlotte, Fla., in late July when Tebow, while in the on-deck circle during a game, shook hands with Seth through the backstop screen. The moment was captured on video by Seth's mother, as was the home run Tebow promptly hit in his ensuing at bat. Seth, who has high-functioning autism and other health issues, celebrated wildly and the video went viral. PHOTO PROVIDED
  3. Cannon Fodder podcast: Previewing Bucs-Jaguars

    Blogs

    Greg Auman previews the Bucs' preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars and talks about the $26,000 Bucs rookie dinner tab that wasn't in our latest Bucs Cannon Fodder podcast. Listen below:

    Charles Sims runs with the ball during the Bucs' game against the Jaguars last season.
  4. Plenty of unfinished business for Mitchell volleyball

    Volleyball Preps

    TRINITY — Their previous trip to New Smyrna Beach turned out to be a joyride, resulting in the Mitchell Mustangs' first spot in the state volleyball semifinals.

    Mitchell High school’s Jessie Mooney serves the ball during the 6A State High School Championship volleyball finals game against  Jensen Beach High School at the Venue on the UCF campus in Orlando.
(11/14/2015  WILLIE J. ALLEN JR.]