The regular season, at least in the last two weeks, has been defined by milestones.
Two weeks ago, Indian Rocks Christian's Phil Farver became the second girls basketball coach in the county to win 500 games in his career. Last week, Clearwater's Tom Shaneyfelt became the only girls coach in the bay area to reach 600 career wins.
Then there are milestones among players. Indian Rocks Christian's Tori Trador and Clearwater Central Catholic's RyAnn Gavin became the latest to score 1,000 points in their career, joining a seemingly endless list of players who have hit that mark. With the district tournaments starting this week, Boca Ciega's Tamara Taylor needs 38 points to reach 2,000 for her career. And she needs just 21 to surpass the school's all-time leading scorer, Akita Heatly.
Taylor also will try to lead the Pirates to their 19th straight postseason appearance, which would be the third-longest streak in the state. St. Petersburg Catholic is going for its 14th straight postseason appearance.
Can they make it? We answer the pressing questions entering the district tournaments.
1. Does Boca Ciega have a chance to make its fourth straight state final four? The prospects did not look good at the start of the season. The Pirates lost five games in December, including games against south county rivals Lakewood and St. Petersburg. Boca Ciega also lost Alexis Ungro, who has not played in the past seven weeks due to a violation of team rules. Despite her absence, the Pirates have found some scoring balance, something that was lacking the first month of the season. Jakera Allen (14.2 points per game) and Destiny Brown (11.1) give Boca Ciega two other players who are averaging double figures besides Taylor. They have been a big reason Boca Ciega has rebounded from a poor start. The Pirates have not lost since returning from winter break and should roll through the Class 5A, District 12 tournament considering they are undefeated in district competition and have the No. 1 seed. The tough part will come in the region semifinals and finals, where they will most likely have to face Clearwater and Sickles in consecutive games.
2. Which teams have the best chance of making the postseason? Besides Boca Ciega, Clearwater (5A-11), Lakewood (4A-12), Indian Rocks Christian (2A-10) and Northside Christian (2A-11) appear to be locks after going undefeated against their district competition and earning No. 1 seeds. The Spartans, who won the PCAC title, have the county's best team and appear to be on a collision course with defending state finalist Jefferson in a region semifinal. The Golden Eagles also have state title aspirations and would most likely get Community School of Naples in a region final.
3. Which districts are the toughest? Class 6A-7 is strong from top to bottom. St. Petersburg has the No. 2 seed thanks to a last-second shot against Sarasota Riverview. Palm Harbor is the No. 5, even though the Hurricanes came on at the end, including an upset of the Green Devils last week. Countryside, which has played tough against everyone, is No. 6. In 3A-10, St. Petersburg Catholic and Tampa Catholic could meet in the title game. But the Barons will first have to get past Academy of the Holy Names, a team St. Petersburg Catholic lost to earlier this month.
Admission: $5 per session
Tuesday: at Sarasota Riverview, North Port (4) vs Palm Harbor University (5), 5 p.m.; Riverview (3) vs. Countryside (6), 7; Wednesday: North Port/PHU winner at Sarasota (1), 7; Riverview/Countryside winner at St. Petersburg (2), 7; Friday: final, site TBD, 7
5A-12 at Pinellas Park
Tuesday: Pinellas Park (5) vs. Largo (4), 7; Wednesday: Northeast (2) vs. Gibbs (3), 6:30; Boca Ciega (1) vs. Pinellas Park/Largo winner, 8; Friday: final, 7
5A-11 at East Lake
Tuesday: Tarpon Springs (4) vs. Dunedin (5), 7; Wednesday: Clearwater (1) vs. Tarpon Springs/Dunedin winner, 6:30; East Lake (2) vs. Seminole (3), 8; Friday: final, 7
Tuesday: Osceola (5) at Palmetto (4), 7; Bradenton Bayshore (6) at Braden River (3), 7; Dixie Hollins (7) at Lakewood Ranch (2), 7; Wednesday: Osceola/Palmetto winner at Lakewood (1), 7; Dixie Hollins/Lakewood Ranch winner vs. Braden River/Bayshore winner (highest seed hosts), 7; Friday: final, site TBD, 7
3A-10 at Berkeley Prep
Tuesday: Berkeley Prep (4) vs. Clearwater Central Catholic (5), 7; Thursday: St. Petersburg Catholic (2) vs. Academy of the Holy Names (3), 6; Tampa Catholic (1) vs. Berkeley Prep/CCC winner, 7:30; Saturday: final, 7
2A-11 at Northside
Tuesday: Bradenton St. Stephen's (5) at Admiral Farragut (4), 7; Friday: Shorecrest Prep (3) vs. Sarasota Out-of-Door (2), 6; Northside Christian (1) vs. Admiral Farragut/St. Stephen's winner, 7:30; Saturday: final, 7
2A-10 at Calvary Christian
Thursday: Tampa Prep (4) vs. Bishop McLaughlin (5), 7; Friday: Brooks-DeBartolo (2) vs. Calvary Christian (3), 6; Indian Rocks Christian (1) vs. Tampa Prep/Bishop McLaughlin winner, 7:30; Saturday: final, 7
A-9 at Tampa Bay Christian
Tuesday: Lakeside Christian (4) vs. Tampa Bay Christian (5), 5:30; Cambridge (3) vs. Canterbury (6), 7; Friday: Academy at the Lakes (2) vs. Cambridge/Canterbury winner, 5:30; Keswick Christian (1) vs. Lakeside Christian/Tampa Bay Christian winner, 7; Saturday: final, 7