Make us your home page

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

(View our Privacy Policy)

No surprises this time around for Boca Ciega girls

The return of Tamara Taylor (14) is a big reason for Bogie’s 19-game win streak. This year, the Pirates are shooting for a title.


The return of Tamara Taylor (14) is a big reason for Bogie’s 19-game win streak. This year, the Pirates are shooting for a title.

GULFPORT — At the end, the sheen of dominance Boca Ciega had acquired during last year's spectacular regular season was replaced by shocked stares.

The Pirates, playing in their first state semifinal girls basketball game since 1999, were whipped in a 73-40 loss to a Winter Haven team that prevailed on quickness, tradition and experience.

"I think some people thought we were not disappointed after that loss," Boca Ciega coach Will White said. "I think we were more in a state of disbelief that we played that bad."

But somewhere off in their own special corner, the Pirates found a way to internalize that defeat and keep fresh their championship glory.

Now they are back.

On Wednesday, Boca Ciega returns to the Lakeland Center, facing Davie Nova in a Class 5A state semifinal at 8:30 p.m.

"We were all devastated by last year's loss," junior guard Latavia Dempsey said. "But we couldn't wait for this season to start because we knew we had a chance to get here again."

Maintaining that they might be more talented this season and equally driven to win a title, Boca Ciega players started working not long after last season ended.

There were a few bumps early on, adjusting to injuries and the loss of Tamara Taylor to academic ineligibility. The result was three losses in December.

Since then — and with Taylor's return in mid January — the Pirates (28-3) have been on a tear and enter as the hottest team in the tournament with 19 straight wins.

They also can take solace in knowing that out of last year's 5A final four participants, they are the only ones still alive.

Having played in the vastness of the Lakeland Center should pay dividends this time around.

Unfamiliarity with the arena, with its faraway background of fans and the height of the ceiling, made shooting an adventure last season.

Boca Ciega, a team that lives and dies by the 3-pointer, was 4-of-30 on field goals, including 2-of-11 from 3-point range in the first half of last year's state semifinal against Winter Haven.

"I didn't want to talk about the size of the arena last year because I didn't want the players to think about it," White said. "But it definitely posed a problem, especially with depth perception on shots."

To ensure the Pirates are well-versed in playing in big arenas, White scheduled Monday's practice at USF.

"That helped a lot just to see another gym with a faraway back wall and make that adjustment before we get there," Dempsey said. "We don't want to take anything for granted."

This time, Boca Ciega does not have a just-happy-to-be-here mentality.

"We will not be satisfied unless we take another step," senior guard Tory Stephens said. "We want to win it all."

Bob Putnam can be reached at

Up next

State girls basketball

All games at the Lakeland Center, Wednesday-

Saturday. Admission is $9 per session.

Wednesday's semifinals:

Class A

FAMU vs. Deltona Trinity Christian, 10 a.m.

Sarasota Christian vs. Lake Worth Christian, 11:30 a.m.

Class 3A

Tampa Catholic vs. Miramar Parkway, 2:30 p.m.

Jacksonville Ribault vs. Gainesville P.K. Yonge, 4 p.m.

On the Web

If you can't make the trip to Lakeland, we'll blog the Tampa Catholic and Bogie games live at And be sure to check out the Hub for postgame stories, photo galleries and video highlights, all at

No surprises this time around for Boca Ciega girls 02/23/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 24, 2009 12:00am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Erasmo Ramirez continues to deliver for Rays

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Pitching coach Jim Hickey has a saying he uses with the Rays pitchers: "Don't let them hit the ball. Make them hit the ball."

    HUG IT OUT: Souza, back, celebrates his two-run homer with a congratulatory hug from Rays catcher Jesus Sucre.
  2. Tom Jones: Rays made right move sending Blake Snell to minors

    The Heater

    tom jones' two cents

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays took their team photo before Wednesday night's game against the Angels. One player who should have been there was not: pitcher Blake Snell.

    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


    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/ via AP)