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Pinellas girls basketball preview

Boca Ciega's Latavia Dempsey is among the state's most electrifying players.

The 5-foot-7 combo guard can score from all over with the best of them, passes exceptionally well, is unselfish and can play a little defense.

During the playoffs last season, she was at her best.

And because of it, the Pirates (28-4) reached the Cass 5A final four before losing to Davie Nova 42-41 in the semifinals.

This season, Dempsey, a Florida Atlantic recruit, wants more. The Times catches up with her.

How painful was it to lose by only a point at the '09 final four?

"It hurt bad. We had all the pieces to the puzzle. We were there; it just slipped away. We worked hard every day and played as a team. It was a few plays that knocked us out."

How long did it take to get over the hurt?

"It took a while. I thought about it a lot. For a long time, it didn't go away."

When did your attention turn to this season?

"Over the summer I started thinking about it. I was like, 'It's our destiny (to win state).' We've got to get there. We've got to win it."

Has last year's ending motivated you?

"It motivates me a lot. We need to do all the little things to get better. When we come to practice, we've got to come ready to play all the time. "Yes. I've definitely been doing those things in practice, showing everyone the right way and how to become a good player on the court — and off the court, too."

You want that championship ring, but can this Pirates team win it?

"Yes, I believe so. If everyone believes it, we can."

Players to watch

Sharee Booze, G., Sr., Palm Harbor University: One of the area's top scorers at 18.9 points per game last winter, Booze was a first-team all-county performer.

Victoria Cecil, G, Sr., Clearwater: The 5-foot-8 combo guard is the traditionally tough Tornadoes' most experienced returnee.

Jerica Coley, G, Sr., St. Petersburg Catholic: A sensational all-around performer and future Division I player, Coley led the county in scoring (22.4 points per game) last season.

Hannah Demarest, F, Jr. Osceola: A solid inside player who reached the 20-point mark in nearly half of her team's games as a sophomore.

Latavia Dempsey, G, Sr., Boca Ciega: A complete player on both ends of the court, Dempsey has all-state potential

Kelsey Geraghty, G, So., Seminole: An outstanding point guard who makes her teammates better, Geraghty was a third-team PCAC pick last season.

Kamika Idom, G, Jr., St. Petersburg: The Gibbs transfer figures to make an immediate impact at her new school.

Latesha Johnson, G, Sr., Lakewood: A three-year starter at point guard who averages more than 6.0 assists a game for her career.

Lashe Kirkland, G-F, Sr., Clearwater: An offseason transfer with her twin (Latrel) from Mitchell, the 5-foot-9 standout can score from the inside and outside.

Latrel Kirkland, G, Sr., Clearwater: A 5-foot-9 perimeter player, she was Mitchell's leading scorer last season (13.5 points per game).

Kayla Roberts, G, Jr., Lakewood: Has a solid inside-outside game. She scored 22 earlier this week vs. Tampa Catholic.

Tamara Taylor, G, Jr., Boca Ciega: The 5-foot-9 star was a second-team 5A all-state performer last season.

Alexis Ungro, G, Fr., Boca Ciega: The first-year player is a true point guard with a court vision beyond her years.

Jenae Wilson, C, Sr., Lakewood: The 6-foot-2 post player and Jacksonville University recruit is one of the area's top inside threats.

Three story lines

1. Final four replay? A season ago, Boca Ciega went 28-4 and reached the 5A final four. Dempsey and Taylor are great, but they're also the Pirates' only returning starters. The rest of the starting lineup will consist of freshmen.

2. Wonder twin powers: How much of a boost will twins Latrel and Lashe Kirkland, who transferred from Mitchell, give Clearwater? They'll each start, and it wouldn't be a shock if both were double-digit scorers.

3. And the pick is? Which college will land Coley, last season's Pinellas County Player of the Year? Louisville, Miami and USF are among the schools that have shown interest.

District breakdown

6A-7: Countryside, North Port, Palm Harbor University, Sarasota, Sarasota Riverview, St. Petersburg.

5A-11: Clearwater, Dunedin, East Lake, Seminole, Tarpon Springs.

5A-12: Boca Ciega, Gibbs, Largo, Northeast, Pinellas Park.

4A-10: Bradenton Bayshore, Bradenton Braden River, Dixie Hollins, Lakewood, Lakewood Ranch, Osceola, Palmetto.

3A-10: Berkeley Prep, Clearwater Central Catholic, Holy Names, St. Petersburg Catholic, Tampa Catholic.

2A-10: Bishop McLaughlin, Brooks-DeBartolo, Calvary Christian, Indian Rocks Christian, Tampa Prep.

2A-11: Admiral Farragut, Northside Christian, Sarasota Out-of-Door, Bradenton St. Stephen's Episcopal, Shorecrest Prep.

A-9: Academy at the Lakes, Cambridge, Canterbury, Carrollwood, Keswick Christian,

Lakeside Christian, Tampa Bay Christian.

Pinellas girls basketball preview 11/11/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 11, 2009 5:36pm]

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