Saturday, April 21, 2018
Sports

Lennard High boys basketball creates a buzz with trip to state

RUSKIN — Lennard High School fans haven't had a ton to cheer about since the school opened up in 2006. But the Longhorns boys basketball team is changing all that in a hurry.

"They really are something, aren't they?" said school namesake Earl Lennard.

The Longhorns will enter the school record books today when they face Lake Minneola at 4 p.m. in the Class 6A state semifinals at the Lakeland Civic Center. It is the farthest any team has advanced in Lennard's brief history.

"We had a kid win state in the 400 meters and some individuals wrestlers reach the state tournament," Lennard principal Craig Horstman said. "This is unchartered waters for us in terms of team sports."

It also is for the student body. But Horstman said kids have quickly gravitated toward the team's success.

"Right now the support and happiness are at an all-time high," he said. "Everybody is talking about this game."

Earl Lennard, a former Hillsborough County school superintendent and supervisor of elections, said the excitement surrounding the team is being felt off campus as well.

"The surrounding community is really embracing this team and you can see the visible signs of support throughout the area," Lennard said. "The team has managed to really unite the school. They've lifted everyone's spirits."

Spearheading the charge has been a student section that calls themselves "L Block." The orange-clad group lead chants from the stands and have become a factor during the Longhorns' run.

"The atmosphere we had at our last home game (against Lehigh) was just crazy," Horstman said. "Coach (Danny) Gaddis said he thought (L Block) accounted for four to six points per game."

It's a far cry from the Longhorns inaugural 1-23 season in 2006. Lennard comes into today having won 10 in a row and 15 of their last 16. And the postseason has been magical. After capturing the first district title in school history, Lennard knocked off No. 10 Mitchell on a buzzer beater in the region quarters for the school's first-ever postseason win. They followed that up with a victory against No. 3 Largo before taking out Lehigh to reach the state semis. If The Longhorns are to continue their historic run, they'll have to do so against No. 1 Lake Minneola.

"We don't have a lot of size, but our players are fast," Lennard said. "And they do it with great teamwork. It's not just one guy. They play with great togetherness."

Brandon Wright can be reached at [email protected]

 
Comments
Clearwater Central Catholic tops Dunedin Spring Tournament host in extra innings

Clearwater Central Catholic tops Dunedin Spring Tournament host in extra innings

DUNEDIN — After losing a four-run lead thanks to a bad sixth inning, it would have been easy for Clearwater Central Catholic to fold against Dunedin in the final of the 49th annual Dunedin Spring Tournament. But quality relief pitching from Gar...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Span, Rays top Twins in 10 innings

Span, Rays top Twins in 10 innings

ST. PETERSBURG — Roughly four hours before taking the field against his former team Friday, Rays outfielder Denard Span spoke admirably about the Minnesota Twins, their organization in general, even hometown icon Joe Mauer.But business is busin...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Lightning feels Ryan McDonagh’s impact

Lightning feels Ryan McDonagh’s impact

BRANDON — Ryan McDonagh blocks shots. He competes for pucks in the corners and wins those battles. He moves the puck up the ice well. He can join the rush. He can shoot from the blue line. He kills penalties."It was a great pickup by (Lightning...
Updated: 6 hours ago

High school scoreboard for April 20

Friday’s scoreboardSoftballSpringstead 15, Central 0
Updated: 6 hours ago
Rays journal: Miller back from DL, KK surgery successful

Rays journal: Miller back from DL, KK surgery successful

ST. PETERSBURG — For a change, the physically snake-bitten Rays got some vigor, versatility and even a veteran presence back in their lineup  when INF Brad Miller was reinstated from the 10-day disabled list.To make room, they DFA'd INF/OF...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Really, it’s time to look ahead

Really, it’s time to look ahead

BRANDON — Three things that popped into my head as the Lightning and Devils get ready to play Game 5 this afternoon at Amalie Arena.1. I’m going to do something that a hockey team in the playoffs would never do, not in a million years.I’m going to ta...
Updated: 7 hours ago
LeBron James, Cavs show unity with coordinated suits

LeBron James, Cavs show unity with coordinated suits

The Cavaliers, with an assist from a New York-based designer, made their first big play Friday night just by entering the arena. As they paraded into Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis before Game 3 of their playoff series with the Pacers, the C...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Sami Vatanen a big loss for Devils if he doesn’t play in Game 5

Sami Vatanen a big loss for Devils if he doesn’t play in Game 5

BRANDON – Devils top defenseman Sami Vatanen had not traveled to Tampa as of Friday afternoon, according to coach John Hynes, and his availability for Game 5 Saturday against the Lightning is in doubt.Hynes, however, did not rule out Vatan...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Plan to entice developers to help pay for Rays ballpark hits speed bump

Plan to entice developers to help pay for Rays ballpark hits speed bump

TAMPA — Private developers would bear much of the cost of a new Rays stadium in Ybor City under a plan Hillsborough County officials are putting together.Developers would benefit by cashing in on commercial, retail and other construction around a ne...
Updated: 9 hours ago

Racing schedules for 2018-19 parimutuel seasons released

OLDSMAR — Eight is not enough at Tampa Bay Downs, at least when the thoroughbred racing facility on Race Track Road opens its 93rd season July 1.The final card of what will be the Downs' sixth annual two-day Summer Festival of Racing will featu...
Updated: 10 hours ago